Mary (Pattavina) Brown
November 9, 1919 – April 3, 2023
VISITATION: Tuesday, April 11th, 5pm, with 7pm VIGIL SERVICE, West Center Chapel.
MASS OF CHRISTIAN BURIAL: Wednesday, April 12th, 10:30am, St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church, 6116 Dodge St..
Interment: Calvary Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, memorials are suggested in Mary’s name to Saint Frances Cabrini Catholic Church.
To view a live broadcast of the Vigil Service and Mass, please visit www.heafeyheafey.com and click the “View Live Cast” button at the top of the home page.
Mary Pattavina was born at home on November 8 or 9, 1919. The exact date of her birth is unclear. Her hand-written birth certificate may not have been prepared until the day after her birth. The certificate names her Marie Pattavina, but she always went by Mary. Her parents were Carmelo and Sebastiana (Franco) Pattavina. In 1905, they both had immigrated from Sicily to this country as teenagers. Mary was the fifth of their six children. Her siblings were: Al, Elizabeth, Helen, Jo, and Frances.
The family was raised in a home near 10th and Pierce Streets, in an area known at the time as “Little Italy.” Many old-world traditions continued there, including the practice of strong faith, many family gatherings with authentic Sicilian food, and most especially, observance of the feast of Santa Lucia. As a youngster, Mary participated in many activities sponsored by the nearby Christ Child Society.
After grade school, Mary attended Technical High School. There she studied subjects such as English, math, civics, typing, shorthand, and home economics. Mary credited that education with preparing her well for her future life. After graduation, she worked several jobs in the private sector.
At the outset of World War II, Mary was employed by the U.S. Army, first as a chaplain’s assistant, then with the Army’s Counter Intelligence Corps. There she met her future husband and life-long soul mate, a young lawyer by the name of James W. R. Brown. They both stated there was “love at first sight:” they realized immediately that they were destined to be a couple. Mary’s insistence on joining Jim when he defused and disassembled unexploded Japanese “balloon bombs” that fell nearby cemented that realization, according to Jim.
After the war, the couple married, she became Mary Pattavina Brown, and they began to raise a family. The first three children, Jim, Kay, and Mary, were born while the family resided in a house near 19th and Deer Park Blvd. They then moved to a house in the Dundee neighborhood, on J. E. George Boulevard. The younger three children: Tom, Therese, and Bill, were then born.
While Jim was busy practicing law, Mary raised the children and kept a very tidy and organized house. She also had time to assist with outside activities for her kids. That included participation in the St. Margaret Mary Church Ladies’ Guild for thirty-two years, service as a room mother for all her children at the school and preparing students for their First Communion.
The education of her children was important to Mary. All six of her children attended St. Margaret Mary school. Her daughters attended Duchesne Academy, and her sons attended Creighton Preparatory School. All attended college, graduate, and professional schools, resulting in a total of six medical, law, and master’s degrees. Mary and Jim financed the bulk of that cost for their children.
Mary belonged to a generation that has been dubbed “the greatest generation.” Her life story is a testament to that characterization.
Mary is survived by her six children, nineteen grandchildren, and twenty-seven great-grandchildren.