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Obituary For Joan Elizabeth DeGrace
Sunrise 6/9/1937 - Sunset 12/28/23
Joan Elizabeth Brown was born to John Hinton Brown and Elizabeth Crittenden on June 9, 1937. A bright and gifted little girl, Joanie memorized the lines in her storybooks before she could read the words. Her love for literature would follow her throughout life. She was a devoted and dutiful daughter, always close by her mother “Libby’s” side, helping her care for her younger siblings: Bobby, Johnny, Eddie, Patsy, Chuckie, and Debbie. Joan was also very close to her older sister, Ethel Marie Levister.
When a tragic house fire claimed the lives of her beloved mother and four youngest siblings, Joan, at the age of sixteen, rose to the role of protector of her two younger brothers, Robert Sterling Brown and John Hinton Brown Jr. Vivacious, warm and well-liked, Joan had many friends in her hometown of Mount Vernon, NY. She did well academically and graduated from A. B. Davis High School.
Joan met James Arthur De Grace Sr. when they were teenagers. They married in 1956. Together Joan and James enjoyed entertaining family and friends and often opened their home to loved ones. Joan’s gift of hospitality never failed to thrill those who visited (her delicious apple pies and pound cakes certainly didn’t hurt either!). To their union was born three children: James Arthur, Thomas Edward and Staci Lynn. Joan was a joyful mother who relished in the care of her children, exposing them to new experiences and providing them with the best academic opportunities available. She was a tireless advocate for their development and a champion of the realization of their dreams and aspirations. Joan also lovingly embraced and adored Maria Porter as her own daughter.
A follower of Christ and a student of God’s Word, Joan was a lifelong member of Grace Baptist Church. She sang with the choir, was an enthusiastic member of the Flower Circle, and was honored as one of Five Women of Grace in 2004. Joan worked for the phone company for three decades and retired from Verizon to travel and enjoy her cherished grandchildren: Devin, David, Aaron, Ashley, Sheraz, Ja’Lissa, and Eden Grace, and adored her 14 great-grandchildren, even from afar..
Joan’s enduring faith in the face of the painful losses of her mother, five siblings, son Tommy, and grandson David, is a powerful testament to her resilience and unshakeable hope in Christ. Her delightful sense of humor, insistence on forgiveness, and love of family were hallmarks of a life that will long be remembered by those who were fortunate to know her well.
Joan leaves to cherish her memory; her brother, Robert Brown, Sister-in-love, Sharon Brown, son James DeGrace ( Ethleen); daughter, Maria Porter, daughter Staci Woodley (Lester), grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and a host of cousins, nieces, nephews, friends, and her Grace Baptist Church family.
Joan’s compassion and nurturing spirit touched the lives of all who had the privilege of knowing her. The void left by Joan Elizabeth Brown De Grace’s passing is immeasurable, but her spirit will forever live on in the hearts of those who loved her. The memories of her kindness, wisdom, and unconditional love will be cherished and passed down through generations.