Remembering Penny

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Eulogy for Penny Brown

May 15, 1999


We are here today to remember and to celebrate the heart and soul of Penny Brown.  As I look around, I see Penny's heart filling this room.  It is present in the family that she loved so much and loved so well.  It is in the people she worked with who respected her and who already miss her so deeply, and it is in the women and children she cared, brought into this world, nurtured, and gave so much of herself to.  I only had the pleasure of working with Penny for one brief year, but it has been an extraordinary year.  It could not have been any richer, even if I had known it was her last.  We shared sometimes difficult but wonderful patients, lost sleep, and consumed a lot of M & M's.  Throughout this time, her dedication and love for her work was always evident.  You could also not work long with Penny without knowing the deep love and commitment she had for her family.  She spoke often and always well of her husband, Robert:  his support and caring.  Her two daughters -- Kaitlyn and Bradleigh -- were always on her mind and sometimes even at her side when she worked long hours at the Hospital.  She always found it hard to be away from her family, but I know her thoughts never left them.  She had the extraordinary gift of balancing her work and her family and meeting the needs of both. 

      She was very proud of being a midwife and she certainly deserved to be, because she was a truly extraordinary one.   She once told colleague Susan Dougherty that she chose her calling because she wanted to "make women feel good about themselves."  Penny taught us all lessons in compassion, support, and taking the time to really listen to people.  In a year of seeing patients, the only criticism I ever heard made of Penny was from one patient who thought Penny was too cheerful.  When I told Penny this, with a smile her response was, "she didn't think it was something she needed to work on."  Penny filled her life with meaning as she spent time with family, work, and friends.  She blended and balanced them all seamlessly.  It is only her death we do not understand.

       The world was made a much better place by Penny's presence.  She has touched us all.  Someone once told me that if you look around the world or read the newspapers, it might have seemed that God was an underachiever, but that was because we are the hands of God and it is only through the hands of people like Penny that the love and the seeds of the Kingdom of God can be sown.  Penny's hands, as well as her heart, comforted women, delivered babies, taught mothers how to feed and nurture their babies, and held a family together. 

      Penny, you heart is still with us.  Your hands can no longer help us, but your soul now awaits us all. 

-Dr. Paul Qualtere - Burcher



A Poem for Penny Brown

When a baby was born, you were there.

When a baby nursed, you were there.

You were there, to coach and comfort.

My baby smiled, you were there.

Yesterday he laughed, but you were gone.

Babies were you life, and now your life is gone.

You were the stork that delivered our babies,

Gentle and kind, sweet and honest.

You'll never be easily forgotten

You gave everyone so much.

Daughters turned into mothers.

                                       Mothers turned into grandmothers, and you?

                                       You turned into an angel.
                                       But then, I guess you always were.

                                                                                                              -Autumn Crouse














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