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Barbara Brown


1929 - 2019 Obituary Condolences
Barbara Brown Obituary
Brown, Barbara Elaine Russell Born February 14, 1929, passed away January 7, 2019, 38 days shy of her 90th birthday. Barbara was married to Roger Brown with whom they had six children, five of which, Jeffrey, Owen, Andrew, Henry and Vanessa survive her, as do 18 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. Barbara was born in Chicago into a household of Jewish immigrants from Romania and Russia. Her father died of wounds sustained in the First World War shortly before the start of the Second. To support Barbara and her brother Maynard, her mother, Min, returned to work as a milliner. The extended family lived in the Austin neighborhood. Barbara's childhood pleasures included the local library (her "second home"), her bicycle, watching Shirley Temple at the movies, and in summer, extended stays on the farm of her uncle Sidney in Wisconsin. She received her bachelor's degree from the University of Illinois. She and Roger married on May 16, 1953, and shortly thereafter moved to Highland Park, where they initially purchased five acres of orchard, wood and marsh in an undeveloped section of what was then a small suburb. Highland Park grew up around them. So did their five children, as well as multiple dogs that were moderately trainable to make room for all this, they eventually added another five-acre woodlot. Barbara enriched the community. She joined the Highland Park Library Board, served on the city's Environmental Commission, as a guide at the Heller Nature Center, and volunteered at her children's elementary schools, and their many extracurricular activities. Barbara also served on the Woman's Boards of the Field Museum (since 1974) and of the Chicago Botanic Garden (since 2010). She was president of the Evanston North Shore Bird Club for decades, as well. She loved gardening, classical music, mysteries and Asian art, in short, she was the perfect model of the engaged and supportive housewife of the '50s. Except she was much more. Working as a woman scientist in what was then a man's world, in her professional capacity Barbara served on the research staff of Chicago's Field Museum for nearly 50 years, concentrating in mammalogy, and specializing in New World species. She was a participant on several of the museum's research expeditions to Brazil's Cerrado and Atlantic coastal forests and the author of an important treatise on marsupials. The scientific community recognized her work eponymously, naming a number of tropical mammals and birds in her honor. A curatorial position in ornithology at the Science Museum of Minnesota bears her name, as well as a nature reserve that forms part of the Chicago Botanic Gardens. A dedicated birdwatcher, Barbara "birded" throughout the United States, Canada, Australia and Central America. She traveled the world with Roger as well, attending the four Grand Slam tournaments and visiting not only the well-trod capitals of London/Rome/Paris, but also Tbilisi/Tehran/Yogyakarta, and other spots so far off the beaten track that their names have no easily discernible vowels. To stay in shape for these voyages, she regularly engaged in tennis and swimming, and encouraged her children to get off their beds and into the gym. Her family grieves her passage but celebrates her life. She suffered multiple organ failures. As a biologist, forthright and honest, she knew her end and wanted to know when it was close. Being so informed proved a relief for her, and all others involved. The family requests any donations in her honor to be made either to the Field Museum's Integrative Research Center (fieldmuseum.org) , Thresholds (thresholds.org), Congregation Solel (solel.org) or the Chicago Botanic Gardens (chicagobotanic.org). Service Friday 11AM at Congregation Solel, 1301 Clavey Road , Highland Park, Il 60035. Memorials to Congregation Solel, www.solel.org or the Field Museum Integrative Research Center, 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive., Chicago, Illinois 60605, www.fieldmuseum.org or Thresholds, 4101 North Ravenswood Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60613, www.thresholds.org would be appreciated. Arrangements by Chicago Jewish Funerals Skokie Chapel, 847.229.8822, www.cjfinfo.com
Published in Chicago Sun-Times on Jan. 10, 2019
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