A funeral Mass was said Tuesday for San Marcos resident Diane McKenna Brown at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in San Marcos, Texas.
A Rosary was recited the night before at Thomason Funeral Home. She will be buried at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio where her husband of 41 years, Maj. Gen. James L. Brown, was laid to rest in 2002.
Diane Brown, who was 83 when she died early Friday at her home surrounded by family, suffered from lung cancer for more than a year, but never accepted sympathy. Instead, she'd reply that there were people worse off than she. A gracious and grateful servant to God, Mrs. Brown preferred to spend her thoughts and prayers on others.
Born in Omaha, Nebraska, Brown attended Duchesne Academy of The Sacred Heart before studying at Maryville College in St. Louis. She graduated with a degree in journalism from Creighton University where she paired into a career her passion for learning new things and her love of storytelling.
She worked for several publications, including the Chicago Sun-Times and the Omaha World-Herald where she was a reporter. Among her favorite assignments: She and two fellow journalists built a sailboat from scratch and chronicled their adventure.
It wasn't her fervor for boating that prompted Brown in the late 1950s to enlist in the Coast Guard Reserves in Omaha, rather it was a sense of duty. She and a friend were the first women in the city to ever volunteer for the job, which mainly involved administrative tasks in the land-locked state.
What started as a blind date with a young captain in the United States Air Force quickly evolved into an engagement and eventual marriage. The couple had six children over a 6 ½-year period and were stationed at a dozen or so bases and posts, including Anderson Air Force Base on Guam during the Vietnam War.
Brown gave up her reporting career to care for her children, but made time to continue answering her own call to service. Whether it was through the American Red Cross, a Parent-Teacher Association, an Officer's Wives Club, catechism class or her church, Brown volunteered and was known for bringing a sense of humor with her to each assignment.
Her keen wit and warm personality were traits that assisted her in raising their four daughters and two sons while moving every few years, but it was her faith that dominated how she lived her life.
Mrs. Brown believed it was everyone's responsibility to help the poor. She did so in many ways, including dedicating countless hours for years at the St. Vincent de Paul Society in San Marcos. She also helped organize and delivered Meals on Wheels for more than two decades.
Brown volunteered at St. John's in various capacities over the past three decades, including writing and compiling the church's weekly bulletin for more than 10 years.
She was self-deprecating and unwilling to ever be put in the spotlight for her good deeds.
Her family always came first and there was nothing she enjoyed more than spending time with each of them, as well as her good friends.
She was loving, funny, fun, sharp, joyful, a dedicated teacher, energetic, charismatic, friendly and caring. Her sewing skills were unmatched. She loved gardening, bird-watching, sailing, her dog Millie and a good conversation.
She already is missed beyond belief, but the lessons – including the unintentional ones - she gave will live on through those who knew her.
Survivors include three daughters, Shawn Brown Saunders of New Braunfels, Mary Brown of Austin and Kelly Brown of Bryan; two sons and daughters-in-law, Jim and Julie Brown of Austin and Tom and Susan Brown of San Marcos; nine grandchildren, Jessica Masiel and husband, Chris, Bryan Saunders, Tommy Brown, Annie Brown, Jake Brown, Lauren Brown, JD Brown, Matthew Brown and Mark Brown; two great-grandsons, Samuel Masiel and Jase Brown; a sister and brother-in-law, Becky and Bill Parch of Wisconsin; two sisters-in-law, Joan Ledbetter of Atlanta and Joyce McKenna of Omaha, Neb.; three nephews, Billy McKenna, Chris Parch and Bill Ledbetter; two nieces, Katy Parch and Carol Ledbetter and cousins Claire Delaney Shingler, Tom Delaney and Billy Delaney.
Mrs. Brown was preceded in death by her husband, Jim; a daughter, Ann Brown; her parents, Edward and Mary McKenna; and her brother, E.J. McKenna.
Memorials may be made to St. Vincent de Paul at St. John's, 624 E. Hopkins St., San Marcos, Texas 78666.
A special thank you from the family to everyone at CIMA Hospice of New Braunfels.
Funeral arrangements entrusted to Thomason Funeral Home, 512-396-2300. Condolences may be made at www.thomasonfuneralhome.com