Friends are in shock following sudden death of Pegeen Brown

By Lynn R. Parks

Just a month after Samantha Brown was killed when the car she was driving ran off the road and hit a tree, her mother has died. According to Renee Morris, spokeswoman for Nanticoke Memorial Hospital, Pegeen Brown, Seaford, died Saturday at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, of an aneurysm. "This is just too unreal," said Becky King, principal at Woodbridge Elementary School, Greenwood, where Brown had taught kindergarten since 2001. "We are all in shock." "She was a great lady and will be missed by students and staff alike," said district superintendent Kevin Carson. "We appreciate the opportunity we had of knowing Pegeen and being able to work with her." Brown's daughter Samantha, 17, died Jan. 24 after the car she was driving hit a tree near Wesley United Methodist Church, Atlanta Road, Seaford. More than a month after the accident, the tree that her car hit is still surrounded by stuffed animals and other mementoes, left there by friends. Messages to Samantha - "I love you"; "Rest in peace" - are still scrawled in white paint on the road next to the tree. Teresa Rupp, Seaford, who said that Brown was her "dear friend," said that her death, so soon after her daughter's death, is "too tragic to believe." But the tragedy of Brown's death should not be allowed to overshadow her life, she added. "There was so much of her life that was good," Rupp said. "She was an amazing woman and she will be missed." "This should certainly not be about her death," added family friend David Noel, Seaford. "This should be about the life of Pegeen and about her impact on the community and on everybody she knew. When she touched your life, you were better for it." Rupp said that in the weeks after her daughter's death, Brown talked with many students in Samantha's senior class at Seaford High School. "It was amazing the strength that she gave," Rupp said. "She would sit and talk and counsel and support them. In the midst of her grief, she helped them with their grief." "She had a passion for making sure everybody else was OK, putting her own grief aside," added Noel. "She had the gift of hospitality," said Father John McKenna, priest at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, Seaford, where Brown was a member and where her daughter's funeral was held. "Before, the kids visited her home, but after Samantha's death they kept coming and coming. It was a place where they felt comfortable."

She was also musical, McKenna said, sometimes singing with the local jazz group The Medics, and was artistic. She was a regular participant and prize winner in the scrapple-carving contest held every year as part of Bridgeville's Apple-Scrapple Festival. Brown was active with the auxiliary at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital; her husband, Tom, is vice president of marketing and development for the hospital. "She brought a tremendous vitality to the auxiliary," said Virginia "Mike" Barton, past president. "She was very thoughtful and considerate. And she loved the little children in her classroom." And it is there, perhaps, in the classroom, that the community's loss will be felt most deeply. "Her classroom was full of love, energy and activities, all focused on the children," said King. "She worked on teaching a number of things at the same time, all through song, story and play. She never ran out of ideas or energy when it came to helping her students or her colleagues." "I don't think I ever met anyone who enjoyed St. Patrick's Day as much as Pegeen," said Dottie Bauguess, who until this summer worked at Woodbridge Elementary School as a secretary. "Pegeen loved life and had never-ending energy." "She had a gusto unmatched by any other," added current school secretary, Penny Pritchett. That energy was evident in the way Brown walked down the school hallways, many teachers said. "You always knew when Pegeen was coming down the hallway because she was fast-paced and you could hear her shoes tapping on the floor," said Erin Short, Seaford, who is a first-year teacher at Woodbridge Elementary. Ê "She could walk faster than I can run, I think," added teacher Heather Stokley, Georgetown. "You could always hear her heels or sandals coming down the hallway because only Pegeen could move that fast. We will truly miss that sound in our school." Reading interventionist Karen Pusey, Georgetown, said that Brown was always willing to help anyone she could. "I will always remember and admire her spirit, her energy, her selflessness, and her love and enthusiasm for teaching," she said. "The children she taught will always remember the love she had for them. They knew they were special." "She was a woman who believed that a bag of peanut M&M's was just the right prescription for a hard day at work," added teacher Donna Coverdale, Milford. "She will always be Pegeen, our scrapple carving queen. She will be dearly missed and fondly remembered by those whose lives she touched." "Working with Pegeen has been an extremely memorable and joyous experience," added teacher's assistant Krista Schirmer, Seaford. "She had such a huge heart for everyone here and would do anything for any of us." Following Samantha's death, Brown returned to the classroom. "She was always very positive, and told everyone that she knew that Sam's death must have been for a reason," King said. "She did everything that she could to be grateful about the circumstances of Sam's death, and said that she hoped that Sam's accident helped other people. There could not have been a more graceful person." "She was the most caring person I have ever met," said Brown's friend Davena Hardy, Seaford. "She was always ready to tell you that she loved you. She was full of life, and I'm going to miss her forever."

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