by Marcia Forrester, Britton Journal
Numbers have always fascinated Althea Brown, so it’s not surprising she appreciates celebrating her 90th birthday on 12-12-12.
Family and friends helped her celebrate on Sunday at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Britton.
“I was born on Dec. 12, 1922, and it will be 100 years before those numbers come up again,” she said. “I don’t think I’ll be around then!”
No one would want to bet on that! Brown lives in her home, cooking and caring very easily for herself. She drives to area towns to shop and attend events, attends a coffee klatch once a week and leads a very active, healthy life.
The coffee pot or cider greet all visitors, along with a perky smile and great conversation when invited to her home.
“What has kept me young is an active life,” she said.
Brown was born in Britton, the third oldest of eight children. Her father, the Rev. Emil Quast, was pastor at St. John’s Lutheran Church.
“We eight had great fun with each other,” she recalls. “With so many of us, we didn’t spend much time with other children, so we grew very close.”
Because eight children were difficult to keep under control in church, Brown’s mother shared them with other ladies in the congregation.
“My mother farmed us out to ladies sitting alone, so we got to meet all kinds of women and, of course, they kept us singing, reading and involved in the service,” she said. “I’m not sure some people would enjoy that now.”
Her first job was in Sioux City, Iowa, working at the Lutheran Hospital, where she met LeRoy Brown. He joined the Navy, and they were wed in 1943. After LeRoy’s discharge in 1945, they moved to Greeley, Colo.
Althea spent 23 years at the Greeley Finance Company in accounts receivable, two years as a telephone operator, and nine years as a loan officer at Weld Schools Credit Union. She also enjoyed taking classes in interior decorating and a writing class entitled “Writing Your Life.”
The Browns then retired and moved to Britton to be closer to family.
“My two sisters Corinna (Gordon) Bosse and Mavis (Quinton) Muth lived here,” Althea said, “and it was great to be able to spend time with them and their children.”
Both ladies passed away, losing battles to cancer. The Browns moved to Lady Lake, Fla., for 14 years where Althea taught classes on “Writing Your Life,” which involved putting together a binder on her family history.
“I chose ‘Birds’ as the theme for my book and chronicled the life of all eight of us in the family,” she said. “I related each person to a bird that matched their personality and have found a porcelain figurine to match each member.”
The Brown’s life centered around their church. They were charter members of Gloria Christi Church in Greeley and Trinity in Lady Lake.
“I loved singing in the choir, being a Sunday school teacher and belonging to the different organizations,” Althea said. “I helped count the collection money every Sunday and met many wonderful people.”
Back to Britton they came to again join nieces, nephews, their families and friends.
Althea enjoys crocheting, needlepoint, reading, puzzles, walking, playing the organ and cooking. She crochets sets of pot holders and has great fun sharing them.
“Many times when I go to Aberdeen, I get to give my sets to someone. One lady let me go ahead of her in a checkout line, and I had a set in my purse, so I gave it to her. I have given them to the bell ringers who are often standing out in the cold. Those who are good to me, I enjoy returning the favor. They are always surprised, but no one turns them down.”
She also likes to share her cooking skills with her family and friends.
“My family seems to enjoy my Chicken Chow Mien,” she laughingly added.
Althea enjoys driving and last year drove herself to Laramie, Wyo., to visit her sister Lois.
“I put in 761 miles in 12 hours and enjoyed every mile,” she said.
LeRoy passed away in 2010 after only a month-long battle with cancer. His hobby was whittling, and his work is still enjoyed by many. He made ships, pictures, waterfowl and many figurines that are displayed in his relatives’ homes.
LeRoy was instrumental in getting the Fellowship Hall at St. John’s Lutheran Church built. He designed the plans for it and built miniature models of everything needed in it, so members could decide what and where they wanted items placed.
“Having my party there will bring back many memories of LeRoy and his work,” she said.
LeRoy’s Navy uniform is on display at the Marshall Prayer Rock Museum, as is one of his ships.
Althea belongs to the Wackey Walkers Relay for Life Team, the Marshall County Historical Society, the Red Hatters, the St. John’s Lutheran Women’s Group and a coffee klatch. She plays bingo regularly and attends many activities at the school and in town.
“Thank you, Britton, because you’re a great place to live,” she said. “You’ve been my salvation!”
One of her nephews, Larry Bosse, visits her regularly.
“I never know if Larry will knock or not when he comes, but I don’t really care. He brings two cups of coffee, is ready for conversation and maybe a bite of bacon or sausage,” she said. “Thank you, Larry!”
Growing up in a parsonage has given her a background for which she is grateful.
“The values and ideals of life and eternity are a treasured heritage to me,” she said. “I’m thankful my friends and family want to help me celebrate turning 90. That warmth is just what Britton is all about.”