Cover photo for Mary Karen Brown's Obituary
Mary Karen Brown Profile Photo
1935 Mary 2022

Mary Karen Brown

March 17, 1935 — August 1, 2022

March 17, 1935 - August 1, 2022

Mary Karen Brown passed away on the evening of August 1, 2022, from injuries suffered in a fall three weeks earlier. Her daughter was by her side. She was 87 years old. Mary was born in Los Angeles, California on March 17, 1935, the second daughter to Frank and Hilda Simmons. She had an idyllic childhood growing up in Los Angeles with her parents and older sister Eleanor. The family would vacation in the summers at Camp Richardson in Lake Tahoe, as well as Balboa Island in Newport Beach, California. Mary was a great student and was active in the Girls Athletic Association. After graduating from Hamilton High School, she attended and graduated from Stanford University. Mary treasured the lifelong friendship she made while attending high school (Girls of ‘53) and college.

She was attending graduate school at San Francisco State University, obtaining a master’s degree in Radio/TV/Film, when she met her future husband, William Clarence Brown, on a Sierra Club hike. They were married a year later on July 10, 1965 at Old St. Mary’s Church in San Francisco, California. For their honeymoon, they traveled to the Basque Country (in Spain), the home of Will’s ancestors. They fell in love with the Basque Country and made that their home for many years returning temporarily for the birth of their daughter Mirén. Their son Piers was born in Spain. The Brown family lived in a small Basque fishing village until returning to the United States in 1978. The family then settled in the Seattle area where Mary worked for the University of Washington’s School of Nursing.

Mary had a big second act when she returned to higher education at the age of 51. In 1986, Mary applied and was accepted to the Claremont School of Theology where she obtained a Master of Divinity. In 1990, she became the pastor of the Snoqualmie United Methodist Church (“SUMC”) in Snoqualmie, Washington. Mary was the beloved pastor at SUMC until she retired in July of 2000. During her time as an ordained pastor, Mary went on a trip to Israel with her sister and members of the United Methodist Church. This trip deepened and enriched Mary’s faith in the ministry.

Shortly after retiring, Mary’s husband, Will, suffered a stroke. He died from complications resulting from the stroke on September, 15, 2003. Mary was very active in the later years of her life after her husband passed. She enjoyed skiing, kayaking, and hiking in the Snoqualmie Valley, with her faithful dog Guapa. She went on three memorable “Road Scholar” trips. The first trip was to Costa Rica, the second was to the Teton Science School in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and the last was a trip to a camp in Wisconsin called Trees for Tomorrow, a school focused on natural resources.

Mary spent the latter years of her life living on Bainbridge Island, Washington, where she made many friends. She was very active in her local church, Eagle Harbor Congregational Church and volunteered at Bainbridge Island Volunteer Caregivers. She also spent much of her time in climate activism, working with Earth Ministries, an ecumenical religious organization that helps to bring awareness to the ongoing climate crisis. She also enjoyed being a great “Amona” to her four lovely grandchildren. Mary’s bright light will be sorely missed by her family and all her friends.

Mary is survived by her daughter Mirén (Ron) First of Bainbridge Island and Piers (Hilary) Brown of Orange County, California, and her four grandchildren. Mary was preceded in death by her parents, her husband, William Clarence Brown, her sister, Eleanor L. Todd, and her beloved dogs Guapa and Carlo.

There will be a memorial celebrating Mary’s life on November 19, 2022 at 1:30 pm at Eagle Harbor Congregational Church at 105 Winslow Way W, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110 (206) 842-4657. In lieu of flowers, charitable contributions in Mary’s name may be made to the Island Volunteer Caregivers: Mailing Address: P.O. Box 11253, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110, (206) 842-4441,

Arrangements are entrusted to the Cook Family Funeral Home of Bainbridge Island.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Mary Karen Brown, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Memorial Service

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Starts at 1:30 pm (Pacific time)

Eagle Harbor Congregational Church

105 Winslow Way West, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110

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