Bertha Jean Brown, of Cliffwood Beach and Keyport, NJ was called home on Monday, September 4, 2017. She was 86. Jean was born in NYC, daughter of the late Robert and Dorothy (Byers) Shaw. She met and married her husband Charles E. Brown Sr. and moved to raise their family in Cliffwood Beach, NJ. Jean wore many hats, Mother, wife, daughter, sister, aunt and friend. She loved and nurtured her family, reaching out often to extended relatives and her community. Determined to extend her reach into her beloved community she answered the call and became the first African American woman crossing guard in the Auxiliary Police Department in Matawan, NJ.
Jean continued her community outreach as PTA president and Girl Scout Troop Leader at Cliffwood Elementary School. She worked along with her husband on the Monmouth County Action Program (MCAP) that provided the needed help for impoverished and low-income families. Her work with MCAP opened her eyes to the need for early education; Jean canvassed the neighborhoods complying a list of names of families that qualified for the educational and nutritional programs.
She submitted the list and obtained funding for the head start area program that fulfilled these communities needs in Monmouth County, NJ. Partnering with New Light Baptist Church, Jean and community leaders worked tirelessly to open the building to receive and serve these families. Jean served as a teacher, counselor, and director of the Head Start Program for many years in Hazlet, NJ where she enjoyed helping and teaching the youth. This service included training staff members, creating interactive classrooms, and providing resources for the parents of the students.
Through her "Angel Work" in the community, she became a foster mother to many and a constant support system for collecting and distributing weekly bread and pastries throughout the neighborhood. She loved to memorialize life through her photography and shared her admiration of photos by surprising her family and friends of the captured memories when least expected. She was an avid seamstress, knitter, word search player and loved to find hidden treasures on Saturday mornings in the most unusual places. When her health let her down, she found serenity in viewing the ships coming and going out the bay from her window, watching classic westerns and humming the tunes of the Oldies but goodies giving to her by her children. Her friends and family will fondly remember her as a woman who was small in stature, high in deed, while being fun loving, full of conviction and a witty wordsmith who dropped catchy phrases before hashtags were in vogue. Seasons change but the memories made will live on in each of us forever.
Jean is predeceased by her parents, sisters, Lois McPhaul and Barbara Carter, and brother, Robert Shaw, husband, Charles E. Brown Sr., son, Alvin "Petey" Brown, daughter, Alberta "Jeanne" Brown , sons-in-laws, Leslie E. (Sandra) Taylor and Anthony R. (Wanda) Sunnerville and grandsons; Dwayne B. Taylor and Jawann C. Brown.
Jean is survived by her loving children; Alcenia Shephard (William) of Lawrence, KS, Sandra Taylor of Perth Amboy, Charles E. Jr. (Lisa) of Cliffwood, Wanda Sunnerville of Cultar Bay, FL, Vanessa Postell (Horace) of Universal City, TX, and Vincent of South Amboy, 10 grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren and a host of relatives and friends.
To every thing there is a season,
and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance; Ecc. 3:1 & 4
A celebration of life will be offered at Second Baptist Church, 45 Orchard Street, Matawan, NJ 07747 on September 16, 2017 at 11:00am. Interment will be private. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Jean’s name to American Lung Association, lung.org or Leukemia & Lymphoma Association, lols.org.