Vernell Brown, daughter of the late Mary Ella McClain Williams and James Fye, was born on June 29, 1932, in Swainsboro, Georgia.
She spent many of her formative years in Lakeland, Florida, where she received her early education. Vernell attended Keith Bible Institute and graduated from Booker T. Washington School, located in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
As a child she attended church regularly. She accepted Jesus Christ as her personal savior at an early age.
Vernell met and later married Artis Brown. Together, they raised five children: Janice Marie, Claudia Denise, Michael Edwin, Wendell Jay, and Glenda Fay. In the early years of their union, Vernell was a homemaker. She enjoyed cooking for the family and handling the business of the home. She often said she wanted her children to love the Lord, get an education, and recognize the importance of the family bond. Vernell could always be counted on to pray for her family, and she truly loved being in the company of her grandchildren and great grands.
Vernell was employed in various fields, but it was her time working at New Jersey Bell Telephone that brought her the most joy and a great deal of pride. She began her tenure with the company in 1969. Initially, she was assigned to the Traffic Department handling calls for area hotels. She later took and passed a test that resulted in her being promoted to a position in the Business Office. She worked as a Service Representative until she retired in 1993.
Before she moved to Florida, Vernell was an active member of St. John Baptist Church, located in Camden, New Jersey. She was consecrated a Deaconess by the Rev. Dr. Silas Townsend and served faithfully in that capacity for many years. She also served as a member of the St. John Nurse’s Unit. In Florida, she worshipped at Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church, under the leadership of Pastor H.B. Charles, Jr.; there, she was a regular Sunday School attendee.
During the time that she resided in New Jersey, Vernell was an active member of the South Jersey Continentals.
Last year, the Lord led the family to plan a surprise party to celebrate Vernell’s 89th birthday. At the gathering, she was surrounded by her children, many of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and several longtime friends. When she walked in the room she was overcome with joy. She told those who were assembled that it was the first birthday party of her entire life. We thank God that we were able to bless her with such a special celebration and memory!
Vernell was preceded in death by her parents, husband and one grandchild, Jonathan Washington.
On May 9, 2022, after a brief illness, Vernell transitioned peacefully to her heavenly home. She leaves to celebrate her life and legacy her five children, Janice Coles (Larry), Claudia Brown Fortune, Michael Brown (Toni), Wendell Brown (Nicole) and Glenda Teitel (Edward); six grandchildren, Alicia Williams (Denean), Avery Brown, Gabrielle Brown, Matthew Brown, Rachel Brown, Grace Teitel; three great-grandchildren, Cameron Williams, Gaven Williams, and Joshua Williams; four sisters-in-law, Doris Brown, Pearl Hicks (Freddie), Helen Watkins (Ben), and Vernell Brown; one brother-in-law, Elgia Brown (Juanita) and a host of other family and friends, including the members of the special “Birthday Club,” all of whom loved her dearly.
A viewing will be held Thursday, May 19, 2022 from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at Aaron and Burney Bivens Funeral Home, 529 Kingsley Avenue, Orange Park, FL 32073. A funeral service will be held Friday, May 20, 2022 at 11:00 a.m. at, Shiloh Church Orange Park, 939 Blanding Blvd., Orange Park, FL 32065.
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