Virginia P. Brown (“Verdi”) died peacefully at home in her bed on August 23, 2020 surrounded by her 2 sons, who prayed with her. She had a full, wonderful life in her 91 years. She is survived by her children Ralph, Jackie (Roger), and Jon, sister-in-law, Jane Potok, grandchildren (Amanda, Andrea and Nicole), greatgrandchildren (Shayna, Layla, Alex, Ivan and Bennett), granddogs, and many other friends and family who loved her deeply.
Virginia was born in Detroit, Michigan on July 21, 1929 to Julia and Andrew Potok. Both of her parents moved to the United States from Poland and her mother operated a business after her father died at a young age. Virginia came from a large family with 6 sisters and 3 brothers.
In elementary school she became lifelong friends with 4 other women. They remained friends throughout their entire lives getting together monthly with each other and their husbands to have dinner and play cards or travel.
She met the love of her life, Ralph F. Brown while working at Wayne County. They were married for 58 years before his death in 2010. During her marriage, she and Ralph raised their 4 children at their Livonia, Michigan home. She and her husband, Ralph, bowled and golfed for years. They had lake front property “up north” in Omena, Michigan and lake front property Sugar Springs, Michigan. They were snowbirds for decades and had a second home in the ocean front community Briny Breezes, Florida. They were active in Briny Breezes and formed wonderful friendships and memories. They would travel with the travel club and looked forward to the Michigan parties. They were extras in the movie “Folks” when part of the movie was filmed at Briny. Both were interviewed on Nightline when Briny made the national news a few years ago.
She and her husband loved to travel. They owned several boats over the years even though she was afraid of the water. She, her husband and children would take boat trips with their friends in both Michigan and Florida. She and her husband had many campers throughout the years, including a converted school bus. She and her husband traveled the country with their children giving them many wonderful experiences. Her and her husband travelled throughout the U.S. following their retirements and went to Europe. She and her sisters and brother, travelled to see her parents’ homeland, Poland, and visit family there.
Virginia was a superwoman working 38 years for Wayne County Register of Deeds. This was during a time in history when most women did not work outside of the home. Not only did she work full-time, but she had 4 children to raise, and did most of the housework. Virginia drove to work in Detroit from Livonia and never got into an accident or received any tickets. She still had an active driver’s license at the time of her death.
Anyone who tasted Virginia’s cooking knew what an excellent cook she was. Virginia loved to throw parties and have family and friends come to the home. She planned parties at work for office staff. She did such a great job that when she retired, on January 14, 1987, Edward McNamara, then Wayne County Executive, had an official proclamation honoring the Virginia Brown party room. Until recently, every year the whole extended family would get together for holidays; many of those years, Virginia and Ralph would host the family in their beloved Livonia, MI home. The extended family would get together for a pot luck every summer at Lake Huron. The Brown family was usually the first to arrive and the last to leave.
Virginia was a stout Catholic and a wonderful servant of God. She was an original member of St. Collette Church in Livonia, Michigan. She was one of the nicest people, with a huge heart and lived up to her nickname “Saint Virginia”. Virginia had a way of bringing people together. Most importantly, she always saw the best in people. She had a wonderful smile and you could always count on her for a good laugh. Everyone who was fortunate enough to meet her, loved her.
Virginia was a strong woman who survived many injuries and illnesses that doctors’ thought would kill her. Her family doctor, Dr. Sean Coyle, is credited with keeping her quality of life for so many years. At the age of 70 she was diagnosed and survived metastatic breast cancer. Her family believes it was her faith and the prayers of her family and friends that allowed her to live following various diagnosis. Doctors did not have a medical explanation for her most recent recovery. Virginia had a strong will to live. She especially loved spending time with her grandchildren and greatgrandchildren. She loved it when her granddaughter Nicole and great grandson, Bennett, visited her recently outside the living room window due to Covid restrictions.
She used to say, “getting old is not for the weak”. It was not easy losing so many loved ones who predeceased her including her husband, her son, Tom, her parents, all of her sisters and her brothers, as well as most of her childhood friends, and many other friends and family. Her children know she is with them now, and just recently said she saw her husband waving at her. Virginia would not want people to cry over her death as she had a long, wonderful life, full of love.
Funeral services will be private out of respect for the family.
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