Mary Kirkpatrick Brown, musician, craftswoman, and editor of children’s folklore, died July 29, 2010 at her residence at Willow Valley Manor in Lancaster, PA. She was 91 and was the wife of the late Nicholas C. Brown.
The daughter of the Rev. Blaine E. Kirkpatrick and Vernia Marks Kirkpatrick, Mrs. Brown was born in Greencastle, IN, studied piano at the American Conservatory in Chicago, IL, and graduated with high honors from Ohio Wesleyan University, with majors in organ and sociology. An accomplished musician, Mrs. Brown was an accompanist for many choral groups and also served as organist and choir director for churches in Connecticut and Virginia.
Over the years, Mrs. Brown edited a series of publications. In 1967, as advisor to the senior women’s honorary society at the University of Evansville, IN, she was instrumental in compiling and editing “Something Borrowed, Something Blue,” an early anthology of quotations by and about women and their roles in society.
Mrs. Brown’s enthusiasm for enriching the experience of young children led to the publication of four booklets of folklore. In 1969, she edited “Songs of Sixpence,” which was published and distributed to inner-city families by the Evansville, Indiana Branch of the American Association of University Women. In 1971, she then independently published in Lancaster, PA “To Sweep the Cobwebs from the Sky,” a collection of traditional nursery rhymes and games in both Spanish and English for small children. Distributed to new mothers in hospitals, these booklets were used in a Model Cities Early Childhood Education Program. In 1979, in celebration of the International Year of the Child, and in recognition of the similarities and common functions of children’s folklore from many different cultures, Mrs. Brown published an additional collection called “Ring Around the World.” Finally, in 1987, she published her last booklet, “A Patchwork Quilt of Rhymes for Baby,” in memory of her mother and her mother-in-law.
In 1988, Mrs. Brown was presented with the Red Rose Award by the Lancaster New Era for her work in encouraging young families to make use of the best of traditional songs and games with their children.
Mrs. Brown became well-known for her hand-crafted toys and animals created to illustrate children’s classics and to encourage reading and imaginative play. Her work was exhibited by many educational and civic organizations in several states.
Active in community affairs, Mrs. Brown served as President of the Millersville University Campus Club and the Millersville Book Club. In addition, she was a member of the Board of Directors of the North Museum Associates. Earlier, she served as a Girl Scout leader in Virginia and Indiana and, for over thirty-five years, happily played the role of “Mother Goose” in many children’s activities and programs. “Mother Goose,” she wrote, “is like Santa Claus; anyone who cares enough can play the part.”
Mrs. Brown was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Mortar Board, the American Guild of Organists, the First United Methodist Church, the Cliosophic Society of Lancaster, and the Fellowship of Reconciliation. A strong advocate of non-violence, social justice, and world peace, Mrs. Brown and her husband traveled with the Friendship Force as ambassadors of goodwill to Russia, China and Japan.
Mrs. Brown is survived by: a son, Dr. N. Kirkpatrick Brown, Greenville, SC; daughters Dr. Susan B. Vore, wife of Dr. David A. Vore, Flint, MI, and Barbara Ann Brown, Mouth of Wilson, VA; nine grandchildren and five great grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her beloved husband of 65 years, Nicholas C. Brown; a daughter, Catherine B. Warner; a brother, Truman Kirkpatrick; and a sister, Virginia Shank.
The memorial service will be held at Willow Valley Manor, 211 Willow Valley Square in Lancaster on Friday, August 6th at 2:30 pm. The service will be conducted by the Rev. David Meyers of the First United Methodist Church, Lancaster. Family will greet friends immediately following the service. In lieu of flowers, friends may, if they wish, send contributions to the First United Methodist Church, 29 East Walnut Street, Lancaster, PA, 17602 or to their favorite charities.