Lillian Brown, 97

October 30, 2023

A Funeral Service for Lillian Brown of Baudette will be held Monday, November 6, 2023, at First Lutheran Church in Baudette at 10 a.m., with a visitation an hour prior. Interment will be at Elm Park Cemetery.

On the morning of October 23, 2023, Lillian “Lil” passed peacefully in her room at Lakewood Care Center in Baudette, where she has resided since May 2018. She was surrounded by beloved family as she began her journey to eternal rest.

Lillian Esther Johnson was born in Wabanica Township, MN, on July 3, 1926. She was the eldest of the “Five Little Johnson Girls” born to Oscar J. and Marie R. (Bredeson) Johnson. Her entire childhood was spent in Wabanica, where she and her sisters walked to school just down the road from their home.

When Lil was a child, she was afflicted with rheumatic fever. Because she was required to rest quietly, she spent much of her time drawing. Thus began many years of artistic endeavors. Many of the subjects she loved to draw were glamorous women and movie stars.

She met the love of her life, William John Brown (Bill), in her late teens. They went out west with her sister and brother-in-law, Verna and Elziar Nichols, where Lil and Bill were married at a Lutheran minister’s home in Roseburg, Oregon, on April 27, 1946. They lived there for a short time until they moved back to Baudette, where Bill built them a home. Their house was conveniently next door to her dear sister Verna and her husband Elziar Nichols, where they spent many years together as neighbors, sharing in the joys and activities of each other’s families. Lil and Bill lived at that location for the rest of their married life until he passed in 1986, and where she continued to live until she moved into Lakewood Care Center of Baudette in May of 2018.

Lil was a homemaker most of her life, focusing on caring for her children and providing a comfortable home for her family. She was an amazing cook and could make a delicious meal out of the most meager ingredients. She sewed her own curtains and draperies and upholstered her own furniture. On a few occasions, Lil took on a few part-time jobs. She, along with her sister Verna and niece, LaRae, sometimes worked as housekeepers at Baudette Motel and Morris Point Resort. To them, it was more fun than work. She also worked behind the counter at the old bowling alley, cooking up burgers and coffee.

Throughout her life, Lil also volunteered much of her time with various activities. She and Bill were members of First Lutheran Church in Baudette, where she was a Sunday School and Bible School teacher and where she also used her artistic talent to make posters and do calligraphy writing on various projects. Lil was a Cub Scout den mother. She was also a member of the VFW Auxiliary and the American Legion Auxiliary. On two separate occasions, Lil designed and produced two books of prayers and devotional thoughts for the Legion Auxiliary. One of them took first place in its division, and both were selected for national display. Lil was also the artist who created the designs for the pins for Baudette’s annual Octoberfest celebration from 1990-2007. These became cherished collectibles by many from far and wide. In the 1950s, Lil was one of the volunteers who were airplane spotters with the local Civil Defense program.

Several years after Bill passed away, an old friend, Vern Hancock, reappeared in Lil’s life. They enjoyed companionship for many years and took several trips to Arizona and Alaska together. Later, Vern’s ill health helped him decide to return to Alaska, where he passed away in 2008.

Lil was preceded in death by her parents, Marie and Oscar Johnson, husband William “Bill” Brown, and sisters Verna Nichols, Viola Bowman Lyon, and Marlene Maus.

She is survived by her two children and their spouses, Terry (Michelle) Brown and Roxanne “Tweety” (Larry) Larson, all from Baudette. She has one surviving sister, Merlyce, and her husband Gerald “Jerry” Gubbels, and one brother-in-law, Oscar Maus (Norma), all of Baudette. Also surviving are five grandchildren: Kellie (Buck) Nordlof of Baudette, Kayla (Mitch) Deere of Bemidji, Karlene (Jalen) Stay of Hastings, MN, Bill (Jessie) Brown of Savage, MN, and John Brown of Baudette. She has seven beautiful great-grandchildren who were her pride and joy: Tanner and Ella Nordlof, Lillia and Louie Deere, and Leo, Mia, and Nora Stay.

Lil’s family would like to express heartfelt thanks to the physicians and staff at Lakewood Care Center, where they compassionately cared for her for the last five and one-half years of her life.