On Friday, February 26, 2021, Janet “Jan” Darby Brown, loving wife, mom, grandma, and friend, passed away at the age of 85.
Jan was born on June 19, 1935 to Laurence and Mabel (Burwell) Darby. She grew up on an apple orchard in Yakima, WA, and while she was an only child, she easily made friends that would last a lifetime.
Jan’s family had ties to the small town of Bickleton, WA, where her grandparents had been one of the first settlers. With her family gathering for the annual Pioneer Picnic, Jan could have easily walked past or given her carousel ticket to a tall young man that would someday become her husband.
She would later meet that young man, her husband, Ellwood “Tex” Brown, in high school choir class, where they attended Yakima High School. They became high school sweethearts and married while attending Washington State College (now Washington State University, Jan’s beloved alma mater) where she earned a degree in Education.
With Tex’s family, also homesteaders to Bickleton as well, it was certainly a special place to them. When Tex was offered an opportunity to farm, they decided to make the small, rural town their home and raise their family there.
Jan was a “doer” and quickly became an active member of the community, spreading out her many talents from singing in the church choir, directing and acting in Bickleton school and community plays as well as Lower Valley Musicals, volunteering for the Pioneer Picnic Association, and teaching at Bickleton School District. She also played a critical role in serving her community as an EMT for many years. As a prominent member of her community, Jan could always be counted on to lend a hand, give advice and could not pass up a chance to roll dice at the two local watering holes.
With Jan's large heart and giving spirit, it is no wonder that one of her great passion projects became a pillar of the Yakima Valley. In 1977, she, along with four others, founded Lower Valley Hospice, now known at Heartlinks Hospice. What started as volunteer work turned into much more, and in 1979, she went back to school and received her master’s in social work, becoming the hospice social worker where she worked until 1995. Jan’s incredible love, care, and compassion for others earned the respect of many families that she worked with. During that time, she was also recognized as Healthcare Worker of the Year, by the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce.
She was a champion for those around her. She was wise, loyal, brave and the kind of friend everyone should have.
As a faithful WSU Coug fan, she always made sure the Coug flag was flying on game days. And she attended countless games in Pullman.
She was a loyal friend who believed in staying in touch, from lifelong childhood friends to her WSU Kappa Kappa Gamma crew, to the friends of her beloved Bickleton community, Jan spent her life being there for those that she cared about.
In her role as Grammy/Gram/Boy, Jan shined. She was someone that her grandchildren could count on to be there for them, from sporting events to creating many best memories and special traditions.
Jan loved her family immensely, giving the best of her big heart to them. She loved a good laugh, a good book, a card game, a glass of wine, weekends at the cabin, quilting, gardening, traveling, and spending her time making the most of her days. She was a force of independence, grit, determination, love, and compassion. She made her home, her family, her friends, and her community a better, brighter place and she will be greatly missed.
She is survived by her husband, Ellwood "Tex" Brown, her children Gail (Tracy) King, Karen (Jeff) Conley, and Neal (Billie) Brown, 8 grandchildren and one great grandson.
Jan’s family would like to thank The Orchards at Grandview and Heartlinks Hospice for their kind and compassionate care.
Visitation will be held on Monday, March 15, 2021 from 9:00 a.m. until time of the service at 10:00 a.m. at the Smith Funeral Home, Sunnyside, WA. Burial will follow at the Bickleton, I.O.O.F. Cemetery. In lieu of flowers those wishing to honor Jan's memory may contribute to the Heartlinks Hospice and Palliative Care or Alder Creek Pioneer Association. If you would like to sign Jan's online memorial book you may do so at www.funeralhomesmith.com Smith Funeral Home is in care of arrangements.
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