Marjorie Yvonne Jones was born in Chino Valley in central Arizona. Marjorie, was a woman of culture, an accomplished artist, and was totally committed to her family and the church.
When Marjorie was twelve she became vey ill. Belva, her mother, went to the road and stopped a car that was driving by and asked them to stop by Dr. Taylor’s office instructing him to come as soon as possible. He came to the home and after examining her, thought it might be the flu. Later when she had some paralysis in her leg the family knew it was polio. A hospital in Phoenix did a spinal tap on Marjorie and confirmed that it was polio. Belva took her to a clinic in Prescott where they wanted to put a brace on her leg, but Marjorie refused. So Belva took her to the chiropractor, Dr Call. He prescribed manipulations, electric shock treatments, and hot oil massages every day during the summer until the feeling started coming back into her leg. When school started she only came on Saturdays. This treatment saved her leg and she was able to walk around without a brace thanks to him.
Marjorie graduated from Tempe College with a contract to teach school in El Monte, California. She and James C. Brown announced their engagement and during Christmas vacation on December 19, 1947 they were married in the Mesa Temple. She raised six children and died in 1987 of cancer and is buried in Rose Hills Cemetery, Whittier, California.
Special poem written by Marjorie:
He Says, She Says
Marjorie Brown's Art
Marjorie as a child:
Marjorie Brown from K on Vimeo.
Marjorie Yvonne Brown 1924 - 1987 from K on Vimeo.
Notes to baby sitter, 1960:
Artwork by Marjorie:
On December 10, 2009 Jim and I went to visit Marjorie's grave site. He reported that over the years he has visited the site and shed tears over his sweet wife. It has been 21 years since her death. The grave is located in the Rose Hills Cemetery, Whittier, CA.
Marjorie was almost three when her little brother Lloyd Jones was born prematurely on August 18, 1927. They made a makeshift incubator out of a shoebox and baby blanket in the stove, but he lived only one hour and was buried in one of his Aunt Judith‘s doll dresses in Chino Valley Cemetery.
Two and a half years later, after a priesthood blessing by the missionaries, her mother gave birth to Margie‘s sister, Norma Louise, on February 10, 1930. Dr. Yount came to the house to deliver her there in Prescott. Her Uncle Ferris Wilcox drove to Chino Valley and brought Grandma to help. By this time they were living in a small house just behind Merle Allen and his family. Merle was Grandma Wilcox‘s nephew. (Grandma Wilcox was Clarinda Allen before she married Belva‘s widowed father, Thomas Wilcox.)
When Norma was just a few weeks old, Marjorie‘s friend (who lived just east of them) got the measles, and Belva warned Marjorie to stay away from her. But her friend was eating a cookie and wanted to share it with Marjorie. Her playmate placed one half of the cookie on the fence for her to reach. The results of course were measles and she got very sick with them.
Marjorie was a very social child, and she developed many lifelong friends, including her neighbor Joan Allen, whom she later roomed with at Arizona State in Tempe for three years. She wrote Joan a letter just this spring and said “Dear old friend, do you realize our friendship has lasted about 60 years?" Joan‘s father, Patriarch Merle Allen, was like a second father to her (loving her and scolding her when she needed it), and was her priesthood ideal while she was growing up, although he confided in her much later that her choice of husband far surpassed him in every way.
She also caught the fancy of Joe Eccles, a very fine musician who had his own dance band. He lived with his mother, and when Marjorie came to visit, he let her feed crackers to his parrot and sit on his lap while he played the piano. Later when his band became famous and sought after, he consented to play at her reception as a wedding present to the little girl who had captured his heart twenty years earlier.
When Belva was not visiting her parents in Chino Valley on the weekends, she took her girls to the Prescott Latter—day Saint ward that met upstairs in the Lodge building while the Rock chapel was being built. They made many good friends there including the Allens, Johnsons, Scotts, Tennys, and Despains, as well as Belva‘s brother Ferris and his wife Ouida. The family was very kind and helpful to Belva and the girls. They often had them over for meals and to play games, and helped relieve some of the loneliness. They also helped Belva make decisions as a single parent while George was away working. Marjorie played with her cousins Jim and Bud Wilcox, and the family did not feel so much alone with many friends and loved ones looking after them and being so helpful.
The family soon moved to a larger house next door, behind Uncle Ferris Wilcox‘ home. (Ferris and Ouida lived next door to Merle Allen‘s family.) Marjorie remembers walking up the hill to school about a block away. She had two kindergarten teachers, (one named Miss Rothenberg), who always had the children march in and out to music. Right from the beginning she showed artistic talent, and her teachers recognized this and encouraged her creative abilities and feelings for art. Her mother remembers her teacher showing her a lovely layout of clay figures that Marjorie had made and was so proud of. She also loved to sing, and others, like her cousin Leone Wilcox, marveled how she could carry a tune at such a young age.
During first grade she became quite ill with earaches and tonsillitis and missed a lot of class. Since Marjorie’s birthday was late in November and the age for each class in school was January first, and because she had missed so much school, her parents were advised to have her take the first grade over. They were always grateful that they made this decision, since Marjorie became a very good student and was always top in her class with excellent report cards. On Parent‘s Day, when the teacher displayed all of the children‘s best work, about every third picture was Marjorie‘s.
While Marjorie was repeating first grade (about '7 years old) the family moved to Cottonwood, Arizona and lived in a little house on the out off road between Jerome and Clarkdale. It was actually the county road headquarters, situated two miles from Clemenceau and about the same distance from Cottonwood. Her father was foreman for all the county roads in the Verde at this time. Here the family had many happy years together and George was able to come home every evening to be with his family. It was really the nicest house the family had lived in, although Belva persisted in calling it their "temporary" home for twelve years. It never seemed like a permanent place since it was so far away from other civilization. George put a fence around the house to keep out the goats that roamed the area, and the family planted grass, trees, flowers, and vegetables.
Marjorie took the school bus to Clemenceau through the 9th grade; the Junior High was side by side with the elementary school. Her mother worked in the PTA organization so she could become acquainted with the teachers in the school, and to help them earn extra money. She assisted by helping with food sales and fundraisers for special projects and extra things the school needed. She worked as secretary, treasurer, vice-president, and then as president. They always had a dinner and social for the graduating class in the spring.
They were active in the church, attending a small branch of about 30-40 members that came from Jerome, Clarkdale, and Cottonwood. They met in a very tiny building: it had a small vestibule, or entry, just big enough for a coat rack on each side; then there was the main assembly room with the stage at one end; and there were two classrooms, at opposite ‘ends, with staircases leading down to the Relief Society room on one side, and an unfinished basement with a furnace on the other. They fixed the basement up at Halloween with ghosts, and sometimes the poor missionaries had to sleep there when there was no place else to stay. (Now there is a large stake of several wards covering the same area.)
It was hard for the girls to attend church without their father who was not a member of their faith, but because the church was so small in number, they knew that they had to attend regularly because they were needed and everyone worked together.
The little family was doing just about everything you could do. Belva worked as a counselor or teacher in the Primary, Relief Society, Sunday school and M.I.A., and Marjorie even taught her own age group in Sunday school, and later helped in M.I.A. They enjoyed this experience and learned from it. With her father‘s consent she was baptized at the age of eight in the Verde River by Brother Ray, who was a counselor in the Branch presidency. The branch was part of the California Mission at that time. They made many friends at church, like Bishop Al Moody and family, the Skousens (Brother Skousen later became their Bishop), Jameses, Rays, Edens, and Richards. Two missionaries visited the Jones family regularly, hoping to convert George, but he was not interested.
On Sunday afternoons after church, her family traveled out to the Henderson Ranch to visit her father‘s mother and step—dad. Her dad had been raised a cowboy, had his own saddle and chaps, and loved to help his folks with the round—up. Grandma Henderson, who was called "Aunt Jane" by everyone for miles around, was always so generous to them, sending home eggs, milk, butter, food from her large garden, meat from a slaughtered cow, etc. She paid Marjorie a nickel to feed the chickens, a nickel to gather the eggs, a nickel to help with the chores; Marjorie always came home with a pocketful of change. George‘s two brothers Ed and Will, and his young half brother Perry, all adored Marjorie. They led her around the yard on grandma‘s horse. Pappy Henderson would bounce her on his knee and sing to her, and give her jellybeans that he kept in his pocket for her. He delighted her by showing her that he could eat an entire meal with his knife, including lining all the peas along the edge and dropping them into his month without spilling any.
One time Grandma Henderson gave Marjorie‘s mother some baby turkeys to raise and Marjorie remembers what pests they were. The family raised the pullets on the back service porch and fed them turkey mash until they got too big. Then they‘d strut and "gobble" about the yard, making such a fuss whenever visitors came. They were the best watchdogs. Most embarrassing of all, because they loved high places to roost, they‘d jump from the fence to the top of any car parked in the yard, and then leave their calling card. When Marj0rie‘s mother hung out the clothes to dry on the line they would pluck all the buttons off the shirts. George said that since they have raised them as pets he couldn‘t kill them, so Belva usually had the milkman chop their heads off. They sold most of them, but kept a few for themselves.
Her mother says that Marjorie was always a cheerful and pleasant, and loving daughter. She was a big help at home and did her share of the housework. She looked pretty in her clothes which her mother enjoyed sewing for her. She made all of their dresses and she had fun making them just a little different than the rest of the popular ready-to—wear ones that you could order from Montgomery Wards or Penney’s. She‘d make the out of the sleeve or collar different. Everyone always wanted to see what the Jones girls were wearing when they went out to a special event, like the High School Prom. Marjorie felt that no one had prettier dresses than she.
She was popular with her friends, and many times would invite friends to stay overnight with the family when special school events were held and their parents lived too far away to easily take them home. Her friend’s parents always felt that their children were welcome and safe in the Jones‘ home. She and Joan Allen took turns staying with each other during the summer. She also remembers a girlfriend they called "Page" from Pages Springs, Arizona, Lillian M., two girls from Oak Springs, and Gladys Chambers. She became well—acqua'1nted with Gladys and her older sister Melba Chambers when her mother began to work for their mother Garnie in a dress and alteration shop. The girls played together after school while their mothers worked.
When Marjorie was about 9 years old she became quite ill. Her mother became very worried about her. They had no phone in the house because George did not want to be called in to work on an emergency during his time off. During those anxious moments, Belva went out on the highway flagged down a car, and asked them to please stop in town and ask Dr. Taylor in Cottonwood to come out. When he finally did, he thought that it was the flu and prescribed some medicine. It seemed to help somewhat, but she was still very sick for‘ a week or more.
About a year later they noticed that she was inclined to drag one foot, and it was smaller than the other when they went to buy shoes. They determined that the illness must have been polio. A hospital in Phoenix did a spinal tap on her and confirmed this. Her mother took her to several polio clinics in Prescott over the next few years, and they recommended that she wear a brace, and even fitted her for one. But Marjorie refused, saying that she would not wear it. They prayed and asked Heavenly Father what to do. Grandma Wilcox put her name on the Mesa temple prayer roll. Her mother began to massage her foot and leg with consecrated oil every morning before school and night when she came home to help the circulation. Her Uncle Ferris loaned them an ultra violet ray machine that they also used twice a day on the leg.
Then her mother took her to an excellent chiropractor in Prescott, Dr. Call, who began applying electric shock treatments to her leg until the feeling, color, and growth began to come back. She stayed with her Uncle Ferris in Prescott during the summer so that she could go every day. She hated the painful treatments, but they really helped, and eventually she began going every other day, and then only on Saturdays as the doctor‘s measurements showed that her leg was growing again and regaining its feeling. The family felt that their prayers had been answered in being guided to do what they did for her, and eventually she could walk comfortably without a brace.
When Marjorie was 13 years old, her mother, who was the Primary President, gathered up all the children in the branch and drove them down to the Mesa, Arizona temple to do baptisms for the dead and receive their Patriarchal Blessings. It was a four hour trip over the old roads through Jerome, then over Mingus Mountain, and on into Phoenix on the White Spar Road, and finally to Mesa where the temple was. They set it up with the temple presidency ahead of time and took two carloads of children. The temple president who was also surnamed Jones, said “I am very busy, I only have time to give blessings to two children; I‘ll take the two Jones girls". And so that is how Marjorie got her Blessing. (A counselor gave the other children their patriarchal blessings.)
In her blessing she was promised that the Lord would "raise up" a young man for her. Later she would joke with Dad and say that he didn‘t have a chance, the Lord was preparing him just for her. She was told that she would gain a fervent testimony of the gospel through faith and prayer, and that she would be able to bear that testimony to many thousands of people, and to go to various parts of the earth. She was promised that the blessings of heaven and earth would be hers in abundance, that peace and contentment would reign in her household, and that she would be the mother of sons and daughters who would honor her and respect the name that she would give to them. She was also promised that the later years of her life would be occupied in helping to redeem the dead in the temples of the Lord, even to becoming an in one of the temples, and that the way would be opened up to find names of her ancestors who were waiting in the Spirit World for her to assist them. She was told that no harm would ever come to her as she was permitted to live upon the earth many years. She would live until every part of her mission had been completed, all the while being respected, loved, and honored by her many friends and fine associates who would look to her for guidance, advice, and counsel. She saw all these promises literally fulfilled in her lifetime.
Marjorie showed early musical talent and promise. She was fortunate enough to be able to take music lessons all during the depression from a woman in Jerome. She was able to do so because her father worked for the county and the county W.P.A. paid the teacher. She also took accordion lessons from an Italian woman on an old Honner accordion that had been gilded once on the bellows, and sometimes it would stick together when she was trying to play. She performed with her class several times on this instrument. Her Junior High had an excellent music program, and put on H.M.S. Pinafore and other musicals, which Margie also participated in. At Clarkdale High School she played the bugle and later the Snare Drum with a Drum and Bugle Corps. Her instructor, Benny, had them do all sorts of intricate paces and formations, much more so than most high schools were doing at the time. Her mother and Garnie Chambers made all the uniforms for them. She also took part in some Northern Arizona music and voice competitions held at ASU and received "excellent" many times.
She worked most of her young adult life in a variety of jobs. One of her first financial adventures was making belts and selling them for a dollar each, which seemed like a great deal of money to her when she was only nine years old. They were a take off from Concho belts. She made them out of wooden hand-painted discs, connected by a leather thong. (Johanna has one that she made for her Grandma Henderson.) Later Elsie Briggeman found her a job with a journalist who had a large family and was living down on Lower Oak Creek. She was to stay with them and clean house in exchange for voice and music lessons. This only lasted for about two weeks, however; Marjorie was too tired from cleaning all day to practice, and she was homesick. When she was 14 years old Lucille Edens got her a job working as an usher in a movie theatre on weekends and she earned 35.50 a night. She never really cared for movies too much after that. For the next two years she worked in Clarkdale Drugstore after school. She was fired from this job once for two weeks, then rehired again. She thinks that it was because a customer complained that she was serving drinks (like beer, etc.) from behind the counter when she was only 15, not quite the legal age of 16. She also worked one summer in Leland Black‘s gift shop while Mrs. Black was in California.
After High School she went to work for J.C. Penneys in Prescott and was a buyer for their women‘s clothing. The manager, Mr. Hales, took a special interest in her and let her know that she always had job with them each Vacation and summer while she was home from college. He tried to persuade her to make a career with them, and go to California as a buyer for the store. She seriously considered this while attending Arizona State at Tempe, where her roommate was her longtime friend Joan Allen.
Her family moved back to Prescott from Cottonwood at this time, and her mother got a telephone and opened a dress shop to help put Marjorie through college. At ASU she majored in Art while planning to work for Penney’s, and in her senior year discovered that she was just two classes short of getting her teaching certificate. She thought that it would be wise to go ahead and get it. She student taught a semester in a 1-2 combination at an elementary school on campus, and the teacher had such tremendous confidence in Marjorie‘s ability that she turned over the entire first grade to her. Marjorie enjoyed this experience and decided that that she would rather be a teacher than a buyer for Penney’s. She received many job offers, including one from Mountain View Elementary School District in El Monte (where Brother Payne was on the school board). After talking to her dorm mother (Mrs. West), she took the one in El Monte so that she could be near the big city and attend the shows in L.A. She felt that she was just a country girl from Arizona, and wanted some wider cultural experience.
She met James Cyril Brown in a Sociology class, at ASU, where he was a Pre-Med student in 1946, right after World War II. He remembers being put out at sitting in front of the prettiest girl in the whole school who talked incessantly to a red*headed boy who played the tube. But he didn‘t give up very easily, and when he saw her coming home from shopping one afternoon he offered her a ride back to the dorms. She in turn invited him on a picnic up at South Mountain Park. There she served him honey and walnut sandwiches (because that was all she had to eat at the time), and he knew then that she was the girl for him. Walnuts used to give him canker sores, but not this time. After a Sacrament Meeting date all the girls in the dorm gathered around Marjorie and asked her what she thought of Jim Brown, and she announced, "Oh, he‘s very nice. He‘ll make someone a wonderful husband!" With that she bounced off to bed, not realizing yet how prophetic her words were to become.
They dated off and on during the coming school year, and the following summer she went home to work in Prescott. Jim couldn‘t forget her, and while traveling to Utah to visit his friends Roland and Marie Tunnell, he conveniently remembered that she worked at Penney‘s. He stopped by and invited her out to lunch. He opened the door for her, helped her across the street, and impressed her with the considerate and thoughtful way that he treated her. She thought, "He acts like someone special!" He also impressed her father a great deal, and while her dad rarely socialized with any of her friends, he seems to enjoy visiting with Jim.
The whole family liked him so much that Marjorie decided to write him in care of his friends in Utah, and invite him to the family rodeo at the Henderson Ranch. This was quite an honor, as the Henderson ranch had become famous since her Uncle Perry Henderson had won the World Rodeo Championship. It was held the last Sunday in June every year, and Marjorie usually helped in the stands selling drinks to the many people who came to watch. On Jim‘s way home from Yellowstone he stopped by his friends‘ home but they were not in. Looking through the screen door, he saw the invitation addressed to him on their refrigerator, and was able to get it just in time to attend the rodeo with her. The invitation did not even have the right address on it, but Jim felt that Lord wanted to bring them together and so helped him get it anyway. After this they began to date seriously every other weekend while Jim attended Summer School Pre-Med classes down in Tempe.
What Marjorie did not tell Jim was that on the off weekends she was dating her Fiancée‘, a fine young man who was not LDS but whom she thought that she wanted to marry. She was also teaching the Sunday school class at church for her age group, and the lessons were on Eternal Marriage and Courtship. She knew that she could not teach those lessons and consider marrying outside of the church with a clear conscience, so she began to reconsider her marriage plans. As she would study and read the lessons, only one man fit the ideals she had in life, the other one was a sad contrast. To be certain, she would take her fiancé‘ and Jim to the same places, feed them the same food, wear the same clothes, purposely be late, and there was no comparison. (Jim later said that he must have had the Lord on his side prompting him to say and do the right things.)
Finally one weekend in August 1947, she told her fiancé‘ that he shouldn‘t come back any more ("the most fortunate day in my life", she said later), and the very next weekend Dad proposed. They were taking a side road to Walker on their way to Dewey, and didn‘t make it there until 35 years later. Some forty years after that memorable weekend she could not even recall the name of her former fiancé‘. He really didn‘t hold a candle to Jim Brown. Marjorie says that the nicest thing about her decision to marry Jim was the feeling she had after making it. She felt such a peace and assurance that all was well, and that the Lord was pleased with her. She had no doubts; there was nothing to mar her feelings that this was the right thing to do.
Jim drove her to El Monte late that summer, properly chaperoned by a friend of Marjorie‘s mother (either Myrtle Welch or Mrs. Young), where she started her job teaching grade school. She had contacted the Bishop earlier and he had found her a place to rent. Jim went back to school in Arizona and worked for El Paso Natural Gas in the evening, but came down to see her on weekends as often as he could get away.
One weekend in November he drove Marjorie out to the Los Angeles Mission Home to get her temple recommend from President Oscar McConkie. (Prescott Arizona was part of the California Mission at that time.) They had a terrible time getting there because Hobart Street, where the mission home was, is one of those broken up streets that do not go all the way through. They wondered if they were ever going to make it; they‘d go down the street a ways, then it would stop and they‘d have to go around and connect with it again several blocks over. But finally they got there, and it was situated in a large older building. Pres. McConkie was very gracious and informative, teaching them about the sacred nature of the ordinances and their covenants, particularly spending time with Margie, who had never been to the temple and whose parents had not gone there to be married either. He had someone sick in the mission home and asked Jim if ever administered to someone. Jim said no, he didn't know how to, he didn‘t think he‘d ever even‘ seen it done before. So Pres. McConkie said, "Here, if you‘ll assist me, I‘ll show you what to do." My father has often contemplated how many times since then he has used this knowledge of administering to the sick in his position as a physician and church leader.
That week Marjorie took the greyhound bus from El Monte to Phoenix, and then transferred up to Prescott. She worried about her trousseau getting lost, but the bus drivers were real cute about making sure that she and her luggage were not separated. They‘d say, "Are you the one getting married? Your suitcase is right here!"
She and Jim met at the courthouse early Friday morning on the 19th of December 1947, where they picked up their marriage license and went over to the temple. But she had forgotten to bring her temple recommend with her. The little man at the reception desk scolded her so (in a nice way) that she worried that she might not be able to get married that day after all. Then he said, "Let me look to see if there is a duplicate on file here." (They used to keep duplicate recommends on file at the temples you would be attending regularly.) Sure enough, it was there. Marjorie sighed with relief. Ironically, she forgot to bring her recommend another time when one of her children was getting married (Jim, Jr.) and it expired before her daughter Judy‘s marriage; however at this time the Bishop and her husband, who was the stake president, vouched for her.
Her mother Belva did not have a temple recommend, and so said goodbye to her at the gate to the temple. But her Grandma Wilcox, who first welcomed her into the world, was on hand along with all her sisters who worked in the temple with Grandma, to escort Marjorie through the temple that first time. Her Aunt Peggy and Uncle Wren were there too as the witness couple. Jim remembers how beautiful and radiant Marjorie looked kneeling across the altar from him. The temple president, Pres. Payne, performed the sealing for them, and gave them some very good counsel that she and Jim reflected upon many times over the years.
He admonished them 'to continue their courtship of one another, to be considerate of each other, to make the other one feel loved, and to keep doing the same things that attracted them to each other in the first place. Marriage is something that needs to be worked at; sometimes one works harder at it, and then the other one does, but it needs to be a 100% commitment from both people to work. Marjorie and Jim took this advice seriously.
Pres. Payne also counseled them to make a habit of saying family prayers. While she and Jim tried to say their individual prayers regularly, they needed this advice because praying together as a family was not practiced regularly in their parents‘ homes and it was difficult at first. They'd be driving along and remember that they hadn‘t said prayers that morning and so "they’d pull over to the side of the road and how their heads. Or they‘d be in bed at night and‘ one of them would remind the other and they‘d sleepily crawl out of bed. But soon it became a tradition in the Brown home to kneel around the couch in the front room and unite in prayer and then exchange kisses before separating for various destinations.
They left on their Honeymoon to travel through Utah in their 1940 Dodge coupe with little money and lots of faith. They travelled through a blizzard part of the time on their way to Duchesne to visit the Tunnells, but were so happy and in love that they didn‘t discover that the heater wasn‘t working until later. But Marjorie got very homesick on Christmas Eve in their little hotel room after eating out at a Chinese restaurant. She was so used to the big family get togethers at the Henderson Ranch where there was always lots of family, friends, and food around. This time she only had one husband and a tiny lonesome room to sleep in. She never had a quiet Christmas Eve since.
Jim bought a little 8‘ by 27‘ house trailer and moved it to Five Points in El Monte. Then Jim went back to ASU to finish up his last few weeks of Pre-Med. Everyone was very nice to the young newlyweds. One time everyone in the trailer court helped Marjorie move it to a better spot without Jim even being there. And several people brought over dinners and other offerings that helped their skimpy budget. They kept in touch over the years with many of the couples that lived in the trailer park with them.
That spring and Summer Jim worked for Signal Pipeline Construction Company and became well acquainted with the superintendent, Frank Gastlin. Then in the fall of 1948, Jim started medical school at the College of Osteopathic: Physicians.
Marjorie continued to teach grade school. She taught fourth grade for half a year at Mountain View. Then because the district needed another first grade teacher at a new school, she consented to do it if she would be allowed to have two weeks to set up her class room and plan out her curriculum. They let her have two full weeks by herself in the classroom and when she finally got her students she only had about fifteen in the class. Because she had volunteered to do this, the district was always very generous to her. The following year she requested that she be allowed to teach at Jenny Baker Tucker school because it was within walking distance of where they lived in the trailer park, and the school board said, "What grade would you like?" She decided that she would like third grade, since that had been her favorite grade in school. The students were old enough to be able to do things with but young enough to be influenced. She taught four years altogether, three of them at Jenny Tucker Baker School. Some of her pupils later became Jim‘s patients over the years and she has kept in touch with many of them. After her oldest daughter was born, she substituted in the district for half a year while Marva Payne babysat Johanna; but she decided that this was too hard on everyone and so stayed home thereafter to raise her family.
Jim and Marjorie made many decisions during their early married years that they felt later determined the great blessings that came to them. Once, owing $20.00 tithing and only having $20.00 to live on, they debated whether or not to pay it or eat. Deciding to trust in the Lord, they paid their tithing. That very day Jim ran into Frank Gastlin, who offered him a job working Saturdays filling and relighting the gas lamps that the road crews put alongside the open trenches in the road. It paid time and a half for one day per week and he worked all four years of medical school. When studies were heavy, the work was light, and when their finances were low, he was able to work enough hours to pay their bills. When he graduated from school and finished internship, instead of being in debt like so many of his classmates, he and Marjorie had $2500.00 in the bank after selling their Penmar house——enough for a down payment on another home. Even during his Internship at $65.00 a month they paid their tithing and got by. They gained a strong testimony of this principle, and Marjorie tried to instill this into her children by always having them pay their tithing first, whenever they received any money from gifts, allowance or jobs.
While Jim was Elder‘s Quorum President, one of his counselors (Ed Walker) built them a house on Penmar in El Monte. They lived here about four years. It was while they were living here that Johanna Christine Brown, their oldest daughter, was born. Jim remembers how Marjorie looked, modeling her first maternity dress. He gave her a book called "Childbirth Without Fear", which Marjorie read dutifully. One night she asked Jim what it was like when the bag of waters broke. He felt around the bed and said, it! " He called the Bishopric over to assist him in giving her a blessing, and then drove her to Pomona Hospital where his instructor (Richard Eby) allowed him to deliver his own child on August 19, 1951. Marjorie felt like sitting up "Indian style“ during labor, and walked into the delivery room and climbed up on the table when she was ready. She wanted to walk out afterwards, but Jim and the doctor wouldn‘t let her. She said later that she didn‘t know any better. This was during Jim‘s senior year in medical school. He called his parents to tell them the good news and went overtime on his phone call, but the operator, who had been listening in, congratulated him and did not charge him the additional amount.
Since they had been married four years before Johanna was born and then waited three and a half years for Suzanne, they feared that they would not be able to have many children. But they didn't need to worry. They soon moved to the little house on Elmcrest Street, where they brought five more children home from San Gabriel hospital. Jim delivered each one of them. Suzanne Marie who was born February 2, 1955. James Cyril Brown, Jr. was born one year later on February 10, 1956. Judith Caroline Brown was born 21 months later on November 18, 1957. Charles Thomas Brown was born 13 1/2 months later on January 1, 1959, and David Philip Brown was born 22 months later on November 8, 1960. The youngest five children had less than 7 years between them.
Things were somewhat hectic with six little ones, but they felt that each child was special and unique. One woman told Marjorie that she was amazed that there could be such diverse personalities in the same family. It was a special blessing to have an even number of girls and boys. Whenever the family went places the children were paired up by twos, and they frequently stopped to count noses to make sure no one was lost or left behind.
The family had a little two—story cabin north of Glendora in the San Gabriel Mountains. They stayed here frequently and stored there some of their family heirlooms that wouldn‘t fit in their small home in El Monte. Marjorie kept her wedding dress, a wedding ring quilt that her mother made and gave her when she and Jim got married, some furniture (including a rocker, dresser, and other chairs) that her family had brought across the plains, and her high school annuals. Jim found an old pump organ and brought it up there too, and played many hymns and songs on it when the family was staying there. Late in 1960 there was a bad fire up in the San Gabriel Mountains that threatened the cabin. Jim and Margie wanted to go up and rescue these heirlooms, but Jim felt that they shouldn‘t go, that they might be trapped and unable to get out in time. Everything was destroyed in the fire. Margie was heartbroken that so many sentimental treasures were lost.
One night in 1961 Jim had a very poignant dream of little Charlie saying "bye-bye", and disappearing, and he cried, "I can‘t let him go! “. Then in the spring of 1961 the family was coming home from a family excursion to look at larger homes. They were driving in one of Jim‘s old Rolls Royces, a limousine with glass partition between the driver‘s seat and the back. Marjorie usually sat in back with the children to keep an eye on them, but this time she sat in front with Jim to visit, and held little David, who was just a baby, on her lap. She had just told Charlie to get away from the door, and he jumped up to wiggle the interesting knobby handle as soon as her back was turned. Suzanne, who was on the way to afternoon kindergarten, saw him roll on the dirt on the shoulder of the freeway off-ramp and she pounded on the glass partition to alert her parents. Jim stopped the car and ran back to pick him up. They brought him home and said family prayers. Then Suzy went off to school and dad went to the office with a warning to mother to watch him closely.
He seemed fine for a while, but then his eyes turned cloudy and he went into a coma. Marjorie called Jim and they rushed him to the hospital and the doctors determined that he had a concussion and a four-inch long skull fracture in the back of his head where he was injured. They called K. G. Bailey, one of Jim‘s Neurosurgeon instructors to look at him, and they deliberated about operating on him. Jim and Marjorie pleaded with Heavenly Father to let them keep him, and Jim remembered his dream, which made sense now. They called Bishop Cluff to help administer to him and immediately went into fasting and prayer. Finally he came to. They felt that this was a very special answer to their faith and prayers. Marjorie later said, "I have been most blessed by The Lord! Do you know why‘? Because I am a firm believer in prayer. Most of my prayers have been for my husband and children or how I can help them, and when The Lord blesses, guides, and protects my husband and children, my problems are nonexistent. I have been most blessed." Jim sold that car after this; he could never really enjoy driving it again after that experience.
One day a young man came to the door with a first edition of the Book of Mormon. He was a member of our church and had several documents from our church‘s early history, which he had collected over the years. He was preparing to enter into the service and needed some money. He heard that the Brown family may be interested and so came by the house. Marjorie told him to "come back and see my husband". When he returned the second time, Jim and Marjorie bought the Book of Mormon for $130.00, a lot of money to them, but a small price compared to its spiritual wealth to the family. Over the years it was prominently framed and displayed over Jim‘s desk, and treasured for the joy its teachings and precepts had brought to both Jim and Marjorie’s families over the generations. There are relatively few first edition copies known to be in existence today, and even fewer in good condition like this one was.
The children have many fond memories of the brick—colo1-ed little Elmcrest house: water—paint'1ng the playhouse; climbing the crab apple tree; tricycling around the hedges in the front yard; watching "Wagon Train" with "Wilsie" or Mrs. Wilson, their favorite babysitter; the bandy chickens and the ‘possum in the woodpile; playing superman on the swing set; walking to Frank M. Wright Elementary school; eating pomegranates from the tree in the back yard; making snap dragons "talk"; tamales at Christmas from their next door neighbors, Mack and Bee; cute "Georgie" , Jimmie, and Jarvis Justus, the neighbors with the pool on the other side (where Suzy almost drowned one time). But they desperately needed a larger home. Jim wanted one with a view, and Marjorie wanted a large area for the children to play.
When they told the real estate agent what they wanted, he said he knew of a home that was coming out of probate and was not on the market yet. He took them up to see Faye McKnight, whom the children called "Mrs. Midnight“, who was inheriting the home from her sister and her husband, the Crawfords, who were deceased. She said that the home would be available next week, and that she really wanted to sell it to a large happy family. She said that she would sell it to them and no one else, and she never even showed it to another person. They got it at a very good price and moved in the summer of 1961. It has been a choice home for the family for the last twenty—five years. Marjorie enjoyed making the house into a lovely home.
When finances would permit she would go to antique shops and auctions, and look through the newspaper for oriental rugs, nice dishes, furniture, paintings; things that would make the home inviting and lovely to those who lived and visited therein. She always seemed to have just the right touch in each room so that the home gradually became a place of beauty. Later her children and their spouses and her friends would ask her for advise as to what ‘would make this room spacious, beautiful or interesting. Whatever she put her hand to seemed to increase in loveliness. Several General Authorities from the church visited their home over the years for stake conference while Jim served in the stake presidencies of West Covina and El Monte stakes. Many church members also came for interviews and meetings, and later for patriarchal blessings when Jim was called to be the stake Patriarch. With so many people visiting the home, Jim was always proud to show off his home and family and the wife that made it all possible. Marjorie was always a gracious hostess, and enjoyed creating a peaceful, lovely, and orderly home for her family.
The house set on a tree-crowned hill over-looking San Gabriel Valley on the front, and a little canyon with a trickling stream on the other. The nearly eight terraced acres were dotted with avocado trees. Late summer in 1963 Jim received a call at the office that the hill was on fire. As he drove up the road it looked like every thing was gone. There was a lot of smoke and the fire came very close to the home. Marjorie knelt and prayed at this time for the safety of her home and family. Later, the firemen indicated that the wind shifted and the fire stopped about 100 feet from their house and went back into the canyon and burned itself out. Later Charlie told his father that he knew that Heavenly father wouldn’t let the fire burn the house and mommy because he and "Jimmy*boy" had knelt down and said a prayer too.
Jim and Marjorie often introduced their children as their greatest wealth and treasure. Marjorie said that of all their accomplishments, they wanted most to see their children happy, to see them honor their family ties and to teach their own children the gospel. Whatever else happened didn‘t really matter. Both she and Jim wanted their children to stand on their shoulders and continue the heritage that they had received. For many years Marjorie gave up her teaching career and developing her artistic talents in order to raise her children and support her husband. She believed homemaking to be the best of all careers, and the loftiest of all arts.
Marjorie always loved big get-togethers at Christmas time, and in 1964, several weeks before Christmas, she asked Jim what he thought the missionaries were doing Christmas Eve. He asked, and found out that they had no particular plans, so he and Marjorie invited all eight missionaries in the district to come for dinner and a little program. Marjorie prepared a lovely dinner with turkey, dressing, potatoes and gravy, spiced ham, green beans and bacon, green salad, lime Jell-O and applesauce mold, pumpkin pies, persimmon‘ cookies and popcorn balls, and a tray of See‘s candy and fruit cake. And Jim contributed some of his famous Christmas pickles that he made for their special friends. After dinner, Jim read the Christmas Story from the Bible and the Book of Mormon, read the Message from the First Presidency, and then called on each missionary and some of the children to bear their testimony and tell what Christmas meant to them. After that a Piñata‘ was broken, with much enjoyment, and gifts were passed out to the missionaries.
It was such a special Christmas event that it soon became a tradition each Christmas eve, and as news spread throughout the mission, missionaries from additional districts asked if they could be included as well. One year nearly thirty missionaries came, in addition to the Brown family, Grandma, and Jim‘s office secretary Ruth Browne. The missionaries always brought such a special spirit into the home as they told about what Christmas meant to them serving Christ in the mission field away from their families for the first time. In spite of the heavy demands placed on Marjorie, she seemed tireless in her desire to achieve a wonderful cultural and spiritual experience for the family.
At least once a year the family went on camping trips together in a camper they owned or rented. They would visit General Conference, Gold Country, and Virginia City, San Francisco, the Sequoias and Yosemite, and Fresno to visit Dr. Van Wagenon and his family (he was Jim‘s medical associate for a few years in El Monte). A special memory was the yearly camping trip to Dinky Creek with the old North El Monte Ward gang. They also visited Philmont Scout Camp, Wyoming and Colorado, Aspen Grove Family Camp in Utah, and of course over to Arizona to visit Jim‘s folks in Mesa, Marjorie‘s sister Norma in Phoenix, her dad in Prescott, and the Henderson Ranch in Dewey. They took in a lot of the state and national parks and monuments as well as Indian Ruins in the Southwest.
Jim would get up early and drive for a while until the rest of the family was up and Margie had made breakfast. Then he‘d pull over and they‘d eat and he would rest awhile, then drive on. They often parked by the LDS chapels or in KOA or state campgrounds. It was an economical way to travel around with eight people in the family and it brought a lot of sweet memories together and good exposure to the children to historical and cultural sights. Marjorie often instigated these trips and researched and planned them out way in advance. She would have a thick file on the place they were to visit and would get the most out of each experience.
One of the last big trips the family took together was to the Cumorah Pageant the summer before Suzanne went to BYU and after Johanna was already married. "They flew in to Newark, New Jersey, rented a camper, and drove it over to the Pageant. The family attended a special testimony meeting in the Sacred Grove with Elder Mark E. Peterson. Then they drove around upper state New York all the way to Niagara Falls, and down through Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, into Washington D.C. to see the new temple and visit friends. They drove through the Catskill and Appalachian mountains (where Marjorie’s Jones and Livesay family lived for many years). They stopped in Nauvoo, Illinois, and Carthage jail where the Prophet Joseph Smith was martyred. Then the family crossed the plains and returned home. It was another faith promoting, family-binding experience.
Through the years Marjorie intermittently pursued her artistic talents and interests. Before David‘s birth she had done a little china painting, and promised her children that as each one got married they could pick one of the dishes as a wedding gift. She displayed the dishes in the breakfast room, and the children enjoyed gazing at them and deciding which one they would someday choose. After the children were raised she took classes in oil painting and painted many seascapes, flower arrangements, still lifes, and other assorted subjects in different painting styles. Many of her paintings now hang in the homes of her children.
Besides painting and antique collecting, she also studied quilting, flower arranging, architecture and interior design, genealogy, and the cultures and history of different countries. Jim always maintained that he would have stayed a simple country farmer without Marjorie’s refining influence. Many were blessed by her ability to see beauty in things and others. She actively participated in the local chapter of the California Utah Women and also a local book club. Always the teacher, she tried to instill this love of learning and beauty in her children.
Her daughter, Suzanne wrote, "She is not only beautiful, but she loves beauty wherever it can be found. Nearly everything she touched became lovelier our home, its furnishings, even to a vase of flowers on the kitchen table. There were always fresh flowers in our house--at least in my memory there are. If there were none from our garden there were some my father brought to her. She was always trying to expose us to all that was good and beautiful. She frequently picked out things of interest around us and helped us to evaluate and learn from them. We made many family excursions to museums, parks, historical sites, and other places of cultural and educational value. She encouraged us in our music lessons, hobbies and studies. Our home was a learning center; she had gathered an extensive file on many current topics as well as many good books--a noteworthy library with some of the finest literary and church books available."
Marjorie enjoyed serving others. Her first calling was working in the Primary in El Monte. She later worked in the ward and stake Sunday School Programs. Sister Faye Cluff reminded her recently of a time when she worked in the Mutual with her in El Monte as well. When the family moved to Hacienda Heights, she served mainly on the ward and stake Relief Society boards including Cultural Refinement Leader and Education Counselor. She even worked as a Den Mother for a while when Jim was in Cub Scouts. Perhaps her longest and most conscientiously filled calling was that of Visiting Teacher; she really grew to love her companions and the women she taught and served.
Many of her dearest friends were made among those with whom she worked, including the Five F Club, which stood for family, friends, food, fun, and fellowship. Once a month they met at each other‘s homes for a gospel-oriented lesson, socializing and refreshments. The five couples involved had associated with one another in various church callings over a number of years. Besides Jim and Marjorie, there was Murray and Faye Cluff (the Brown‘s Bishop in El Monte), Jim and Nellie Ellsworth (who was a stake president in Pasadena stake at the time Jim was Stake president of El Monte Stake), Jack and Betty McEwan (who became temple president and matron), and George and June Olsen, long time Arcadia friends). This association brought them lots of joy over the years and great comfort in the months before Marjorie‘s passing.
In her last few years she found joy in working in the temple. She had several assignments as an ordinance worker and reception hostess, which she did in a gracious, warm, and queenly manner. She and her mother also kept all the altar cloths washed and in good repair. When she noticed a smudge or a rip she would promptly retrieve the cloth and take it home for mending. She enjoyed the temple and felt that this was all part of her mission in life. She felt that it was a privilege to work in the temple and help unite other families in the larger family of God, because her own family had been so blessed by the gospel. Like a diamond in the hands of a master jeweler, the many facets of her fine personality became brighter, lovelier, and more noticeable. Many people commented on the wonderful spirit she radiated while working there in the temple.
One of Marjorie‘s greatest blessings has been that every one of her children and their spouses holds a temple recommend and is worthy to attend the temple. They have all met together to perform family sealing sessions with Jim serving as the sealer. The most special of these occasions was when they met together to perform the ordinance work for her great grandparents, John Jones and Abby Livesay, and their children. Jim was the sealer, and the children, Marjorie, her mother, and her sister were proxies for them. There was a powerful spirit present that brought tears to everyone‘s eyes as they performed the sealing of the family members to each other. We could not help but feel their love for each other and their desire to be together eternally, as well as their appreciation to us for making this possible. Jim and Margie stood together in the sacred temple sealing room and were deeply grateful that all of their children were present and accounted for. We felt that John and Abby, and John‘s first wife Lucinda, wanted these same blessings in their lives as well.
Marjorie continued to love places of cultural interest. In September 1974 she traveled to Europe with her mother and her two favorite = aunts, Peggy Wren and Judy Lind. They went to seven countries: first to England, then over to Holland where they picked up a tour group and visited parts of Germany, Hungary, Switzerland, Italy, and France. In October 1981 she and her mother went to Egypt and Israel. In Jerusalem they joined an LDS tour group whose tour guide was Dan Rona, the LDS branch president in Jerusalem.
She had a warm, tender, loving relationship with her husband Jim. Each week they would head out on their date to church events, plays, and musical events or just out to dinner. Consideration, thoughtfulness and kindness was always evident in their relationship. They enjoyed spending time together. In January 1983 she, Jim, and her mother flew to New Zealand to sight see and pick up her youngest son David, who was finishing up his two year mission for the church. She loved meeting new people, seeing the sites, and learning about the history of another country.
Now that most of the children were married and out of the home she and Jim took the opportunity to do a little traveling, when time and church commitments would permit. In August she and Jim flew to Georgia, went to the Atlanta temple, drove through the Carolinas, and then up to the Jones Reunion organized by her dear, newly—found cousin Delbert. It was a time of searching out long lost relatives and seeing places she had heard about through the family for many years.
In spring 1984 she and Jim had a memorable two-week stay in England. Again she made up an extensive file, thoroughly planned the trip and made the most of the two weeks. The highlight of the trip was visiting the temple in Lingfield and developing a friendship with the temple president and his wife. They planned to return again in a few years.
In the summer of 1985 they flew to Cardston, Canada, attended the temple there, and drove over to Lake Louise, Vancouver, and Victoria Island. In the summer of 1986 before they left for China, Johanna and her family came into stay for a week during July. With Jim staying with them as well on medical clerkship with the Navy, Charlie home from BYU Law School for the Summer, David still at home, and Suzanne and Judy‘s families within traveling distance——it was the first time all the Browns were together in many years. They planned a Brown Family Week of activities, with miniature golf for the adults, a birthday party for Johanna, beach and park trips, swimming and Bar-B-Q at the Gardiners, and a family portrait for Jim _and Marjorie and their six children (the first time in 20 years). It was a wonderful time for the family, and the last time they had to all be together before Marjorie‘s death.
In August 1986, she and Jim went to China with a group of American Doctors on a goodwill mission. They met the mayor of Shanghai, were on Chinese television, climbed the Great Wall, and sailed down the Li River. They had a wonderful time travelling together, and their sweet companionship was strengthened by their experiences and memories. This was to be their last trip together.
Marjorie had been feeling poorly most of the latter part of 1986. Some of it was her arthritis and kidney trouble (she had kidney stones removed in Spring 1986), which doctors suspected was compounded by post-polio symptoms and the beginning stages of Parkinson‘s Disease. Then when the pain became unbearable and her posture became noticeably affected, Jim ordered a biopsy in January 1987. Cancer in her crushed vertebrae was discovered, but the source was unknown. The advance seemed to be so rapid that her family felt that she may have only a few weeks left to live.
While in so much pain and discomfort, she read a talk by Pres. Thomas S. Monson on the Goliaths that we must all face in our life. She determined that the Goliath that she must face was not the illness itself, but her reaction to it and the pain, and how she made others feel around her. She wanted very much to keep a sweet spirit in our home because she knew that she was the heart and center of it. All who helped care for her know how she conquered this Goliath. Often her face would be contorted in pain, and yet she wouldn‘t complain, she‘d bite her lip and ask after the welfare of those around her. The Brown family came to know first hand the great refining process that comes through suffering, as they watched their beloved mother truly become an angel on earth.
In February, when she understood the serious nature of her illness, she desired to attend Fast and Testimony Meeting and bear her testimony to the ward members and her family. Most of her children travelled to get there and with the help of Jim she bore a sweet testimony of the divinity of Jesus Christ, the restoration of the Church, the mission of the prophets down to the present, and the firm conviction that the purpose of the gospel is to make us like Christ and unite families together eternally. She thanked everyone for their prayers in her behalf and the many kind acts of service by the ward members and she encouraged them to continue to love and serve one another. She said that she did not know how much longer she had to live, but that she hoped that she could continue to serve wherever the Lord wanted her to. She said that all of the dreams that she had ever dreamed of as a little girl had come true.
Jim had been wanting to donate their treasured first edition of the Book of Mormon to the church for some time, and decided that he would like to do it while Marjorie was still alive. He told the stake president”-Jim Smith, of their desire to do this and Pres. Smith then contacted Elder John Carmack, the church area president. Elder Carmack then arranged for Jim and Margie to present the book to President Ezra Taft Benson in person during the luncheon program before the Fireside for the seminary and institute students at the Anaheim Convention Center the second Sunday in February.
Pres. Benson, more than any other prophet, has really encouraged studying the Book of Mormon to increase righteous living in families. He was greatly moved by the presentation, and spoke for a few minutes about the Book of Mormon afterwards. David Brown was able to be there also, and Jim and Marjorie felt that this was a very special event in their lives. Pres. Jim Smith had a letter typed to Pres. Benson indicating the Book of Mormon was a gift from the entire Brown family to the church, and he included all of the children‘s names and their spouses. The Latter-day Sentinel and the Church News carried a little article about the event, and the family received a nice letter from the First Presidency thanking them for this valuable contribution.
The family and many friends fasted and prayed for her and she received a priesthood blessing from the priesthood leaders in her Five F Club, blessing her that if it was the Lord‘s will that she live, she would be healed; but if not, then she would not suffer any unnecessary pain. Miraculously, for a few months in the spring of 1987, the pain receded and she was able to get out of bed and get around a little bit. She used the time to sort through some personal belongings and family history, and we videotaped her life history with dad and Grandma. This short respite gave us a chance to mentally prepare to let her go.
It also enabled her to be sealed in the temple on June 6, 1987 to her father, who was deceased, and her mother, who is still living in Pomona. This in itself was nothing less than a miracle to have been approved by the First Presidency of the church in such a short time, and something, which Marjorie always hoped for but never thought would be possible. This was the culmination of the temple work begun on the Jones family four years previously. The family feels that there is a great work going on among the Jones family in the spirit world trying to reclaim each family member.
Almost immediately _after this sacred family ordinance, Marjorie‘s health began to deteriorate again. On July 1, she wrote down this poem to Jim:
"He Says — She Says
He says, "I love you"
She says, "Thank you, I need your love" He says, "I love to look at you"
She says, "I am no longer physically beautiful" Now that I am ill there is no dignity left He brushes my hair He takes my dresses from the hanger and helps me put them on
I say no, that‘s the back not the front He puts my hose on
MARJORIE YVONNE BROWN passed away on July 22, 1987.
Rose Hills Memorial Park, 3888 Workman Mill Rd, Whittier, CA 90601