Southern Illinois loses a Legend

//Southern Illinois loses a Legend

It is with a heavy heart that we mourn the loss of former Randolph County Chairwoman and State Central Committeewoman Barb Brown. Chairwoman Brown was an active member of the IDCCA and the Democratic Party of Illinois. She was also a founding Board Member of the Illinois Women’s Institute for Leadership.

Our thoughts and prayers go out Chairwoman Brown’s friends and family. May the road rise up to meet you Chairwoman.

Southern Illinois loses a legend

By Pete Spitler, Staff Writer, Randolph County Herald Tribune
(taken from Randolph County Herald Tribune website)
Much of the region was in mourning on Thursday as news of the passing of former Randolph County Democratic Party Chairwoman Barb Brown spread on traditional and social media.

Brown, 61, passed away early Thursday morning after a longtime battle with cancer. She was the wife of Circuit Court Judge Richard A. Brown.

“She was an outstanding lady,” said Randolph County Coroner Randy Dudenbostel, who confirmed Brown’s passing to the newspaper. “She taught down at SIU and she was always the kind of lady that had time for you If you had a question or a concern.”

The Randolph County Democrats also reacted to the news, posting a statement to their Facebook page on Thursday morning:

“It is with great sadness that we make this post as we have lost a great leader and Democrat. Barb Brown, former party chairwoman, former Randolph County Circuit Clerk, Illinois Democratic Women’s Chair, SIU Professor and friend to many passed away last night.

“Barb’s work with the Randolph County Democrats will be felt for generations to come. She will be dearly missed by all that knew her.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Judge Richard Brown, her sons and her entire family. Please keep them in your prayers during this very difficult time.”

According to her SIU profile, Brown was a former professor in the Department of Political Science at SIU-Carbondale and was active in both state and national politics during a 30-year career, including roles in the presidential campaigns for Barack Obama in 2008 and Bill Clinton in 1992.

Brown also published several scholarly articles on political parties and co-authored a textbook on Illinois government. At the time of her passing, she was president of the Illinois Women’s Institute for Leadership and Southern Illinois Democratic Women.

Also a member of the Illinois Democratic State Central Committee, she was heralded for having bi-partisan access to leaders of both major parties as well as regional media.

“She was very instrumental in getting Relay For Life started in the county and a hard fighter for it,” Dudenbostel said. “She’s going to be sadly missed.”

Facebook users also shared their condolences and sympathy to the Brown family, while sharing their memories of Brown.

“A truly great woman, very compassionate and kind (and) will be missed,” wrote Kathy Downey LeForge on the newspaper’s Facebook page. “I feel truly blessed to have known her and her husband, sons and family.

“My thoughts and prayers go out to you all.”

“Our loss is Heaven’s gain,” wrote Sandra Hamilton. “Barb was an amazing lady…so very intelligent, humble, kind hearted, strong in spirit, and a fighter when it came to cancer.

“She beat it ~20 years ago and tried so hard this time. She will be missed by many. Praying for Richard and family.”

Other state, local and national officials expressed their condolences.

“Very sad loss to me,” said Randolph County Clerk Pat Laramore, a fellow Democrat. “She was a great friend, a great mentor and Randolph County has lost a wonderful person.”

“The passing of Barb Brown is a profound loss for Randolph County and the state of Illinois,” said State Rep. Jerry Costello II (D-Smithton) in an email to the Herald Tribune. “Barb was an exceptional community activist and a pioneer in the fight for women’s equality.

“She will be greatly missed, and I extend my deepest sympathy and prayers to her family.”

“Barb Brown dedicated her life and her boundless energy to teaching and giving back to her community and her church,” said U.S. Sen. Dick Durban (D-IL) in a statement. “She was a devoted mother, an inspirational professor and a tireless public servant.

“Barb was a trailblazer, running for office when many women held back. She engaged her students in the real work of democracy and inspired them by her example. Southern Illinois has lost one of its brightest lights and Loretta and I have lost a dear friend of 30 years.”

Feelings of sadness were also expressed on the other side of the aisle.

“I’m happy to say we appreciate all that she did for the citizens of Randolph County,” said Randolph County Board Chairman Dr. Marc Kiehna, a Republican. “Both in her role as a political leader and as an elected official in the courthouse.

“I felt like she was well-spoken and thoughtful and certainly what you would want in an official capacity.”

Visitation for Brown will be Sunday from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Pechacek-McClure Funeral Home in Chester and Monday from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. at St. Mary Catholic Church in Ellis Grove.

Funeral mass will be at 11 a.m. at St. Mary. Interment will be in Evergreen Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to St. Mary’s Ellis Grove Altar Sodality and St. Jude’s Children Research Hospital.