Shirley Brown

Shirley Brown (Berkowich)

August 7, 1923 - December 16, 2020
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Shirley's Tribute Fund

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Shirley's Tribute Fund

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Service Details

  • Service

    Sunday, December 20th, 2020 | 2:30pm
    Sunday, December 20th, 2020 2:30pm
  • Shiva

    Virtual Shiva
    Virtual Shiva
    Virtual shiva will be held on Tuesday, December 22nd at 7 pm.

    Click here to join the virtual shiva

    Meeting ID: 797 4583 8373
    Password: 258796


Donations are being accepted for:
Middle School Ceramic Art Program

12219 Faulkner Drive, Owings Mills, MD 21117


Shirley Berkowich Brown died peacefully in her home as she wished on December 16, 2020. She lived a full life of 97 years and was an early model of what a woman can do in the world. Growing up in Thurmont, MD she lived with her parents, Louis and Esther Berkowich and her older sister Betty. Her father owned a general store in the center of town and the woods and mountains surrounding the area were often her playground. She met her husband, Herbert Brown in 1949 and they had a loving happy marriage until his death in 1977. She is survived by her loving children, Jerry and Bob, her adored grandchildren Rachel Brown and Lisa Brown, and daughters-in-law Sindee Ernst and Lisa Brown.

Shirley was a thoughtful and deeply caring person, always reaching out to anyone who was ill or had a loss. Thus, after Shirley lost her sister Betty to cancer in 1950, she and Herbert started and ran the Betty Berkowich Cancer Fund until the 1970’s.

Throughout her life, without fanfare and with steady kindness and engagement of the world, Shirley was a pioneer. She was part of the first group of women to graduate from Johns Hopkins University and then taught English for several years. This marked the beginning of her core and lifelong passion: a love of and dedication to improving the lives of children.

In 1948, she talked her way into a job telling children’s stories daily on WCBM. In 1958, she started a 13-year run on WJZ Tv hosting “Let’s Tell a Story.” She would often memorize four stories a week, practicing at home with her children Jerry and Bob listening raptly at her feet. She was a master of different voices, switching with ease from one character to another. Throughout her life she would at times be stopped by someone on the street asking if she was Shirley Brown the storyteller and then told how much she had meant to them. She brought this same passion for stories to her family, and her children and grandchildren grew up in the midst of her stories and her direction on diction and enunciation. She also made three storytelling records and wrote a children’s book, Around the World Stories To Tell to Children. After ending her run on WJZ, she wrote original weekly stories for the “Storyteller” column in the Baltimore Sun, which ran for several years.

In her later years, Shirley continued to reach young people through work with ceramic arts. While doing research for one of her newspaper stories, she met Otto Natzler, an internationally known ceramist. She was intrigued to learn that there were no museums devoted to ceramics and after many years opened the National Museum of Ceramic Art in downtown Baltimore. While the museum closed after five years, it was the beginning of the next phase of her life. Starting in 1994 and until her death, she ran the Middle School Ceramic Art Program, that at its height was in 57 schools in Baltimore City and County with both in school and after school sessions, teaching thousands of children each year to love the ceramic arts. She was deeply dedicated to the children and ran the non-profit without pay for all those years. She had incredible joy watching the children in this program prosper.

Shirley’s life was marked by her love of others, her love of stories, and her commitment to action. Even in her final years, experiencing various pain and challenges, she consistently asked how others were doing and made sure to reach out to check in on them. She never failed to offer welcomed advice, to remind those around her how much she loved them, and to have a laugh together with her loved ones, all the while never complaining. A lover of ice cream and chocolate to the end, the last thing she ate was a spoonful of ice cream.

A private graveside funeral will be held. There will be a zoom shiva on Tuesday December 22. Please check the Sol Levinson website for the link. In lieu of flowers, please make any donations to Middle School Ceramic Art Program and send to 12219 Faulkner Drive, Owings Mills, MD 21117.
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Emily Levenson

Posted at 07:18pm
I remember "Aunt Shirley" as a fun loving, creative, talented, smart, warm and gentle woman. She was my mother"s cherished best friend for over 70 years, having met at the University of Maryland. She brought joy and light everywhere she went. She brought such happiness to so many including my family.
Jerry and Bobby, I am so sorry for your loss. She will be missed

Alan Gaby

Posted at 11:18am
Dear Jerry and Bob,

I am sorry to hear of the passing of your mother. I remember her with fondness. May her memory be for a blessing.

Leslie Kahan Jones

Posted at 10:00pm
I have many sweet memories of Shirley from when I was a little girl, but I got to know her much better as an adult. A few years ago, Shirley started calling us pretty regularly just to catch up, and we would have the most engaging, phone conversations. My husband just told me tonight that if she called when I wasn't home and he happened to pick up the phone, he'd spend a full hour telling Shirley all about our kids & everything going on in our lives. She was so interested in all of us. When she learned my daughter wanted to become a film maker, she was one of the only people who immediately believed it could happen. She was elegant, strong, beautiful, and so loving. We will both miss her.

Jeannie Gruzin Siegel

Posted at 09:37am
Thinking about a world without 'Shirley Brown' is almost unimaginable. I grew up watching her and listening to her captivating children's stories on TV. To my child's mind, she was a larger than life heroine. Years later, I came to know her, her children and grandchildren on a personal level. Shirley was forever young in every sense of the words. She led her life with dignity and compassion. I will always treasure her memory, and may those memories be for a blessing...

Louis and I send our deepest sympathy and love to her family.

Harold Frank

Posted at 09:44pm
I am very sorry to hear of the passing of neighbor, Shirley Brown. My condolences to her family.

Janet Levin and Familr

Posted at 09:21am
We are so saddened to hear of your loss. Shirley Brown’s contributions to the lives of others is a force that will remain vibrant. She touched so many people in small and large acts throughout her life. My mom, Sara Lee Siegel always spoke of Shirley’s many accomplishments. She also said how kind and bright Shirley was. I had the opportunity to know Shirley and meet her in some very unusual places- like an unexpected cafe overseas while on travels. She was gracious and inviting and had such energy and curiosity. Her wonderful legacy is permanent. Our prayers are with you. Janet Levin and Sara Lee Siegel

Olga Juanteguy

Posted at 03:05pm
My deepest sympathy to the family .Shirley and I shared good times together, playing bridge, reading for a book club ,having long conversations during lunch..She was a beautiful woman and very smart . I will miss her .

Fran Crystal

Posted at 11:09am
Dear Bob, Jerry and family,
My sincere condolences on the passing of your beloved mother and grandmother. Shirley was a wonderful women who was ahead of her times. She was gracious, beautiful and had a melodious voice. What I remember most is that she was a true friend to my mother, Bea Crystal Siegel, my Aunt Sara Lee Siegel and to me. I remember our dinners and lunches at The Club and how Shirley always wanted to know
how my daughter and I were doing. Shirley often regaled me with stories of
her many travels, her charitable endeavours and her beloved family. May her memory be a blessing. She will be greatly missed by everyone who knew her.

Charles Tamres

Posted at 09:22pm
My sincere condolences on Shirley's passing. She was a very delightful woman. May your memories bring you comfort during time

Deborah C Dopkin

Posted at 10:21am
Though I didn’t know her well, as a child I looked forward to hearing her read stories to us. Then as an adult, I got to know Shirley and Herb as family friends and then as neighbors. She was a beautiful and gracious lady, and I am sure she will be missed. Please accept our condolences.

Steve Hecht, Grapeview, WA

Posted at 07:48pm
My deepest sympathy, Bob and Jerry, to you and your family. My family and I go back so many years with Shirley and Herb. I first met Herb when I was a young boy visiting my father, Alan, on Saturday mornings at the Apple & Bond insurance office in the First National Bank Building at Light & Redwood Streets. I joined my Dad in insurance in 1968, and Herb was one of the first of my his friends and colleagues to interact with me on a professional level. He was such a nice friendly man, always happy to see me, and vice versa. If I recall correctly, Shirley took over his business after he died, which is when I got to know her better. I now know what an accomplished person she was in so many other areas. May she rest in peace and her memory always be a blessing.

Susan Komaroff

Posted at 03:48pm
I met Shirley many years ago, we played bridge together. When my twin granddaughters were born, as they grew up Shirley gave me the best advise. She told me when they are young they follow you, when they get older you follow them. She often talked about her granddaughters, she loved them so. I will miss her. Rest in peace Shirley.
Susan Komaroff

Sue Needle

Posted at 02:33pm
Dear family,
I have many fond memories of your mother, going back to the early 1950’s. She taught elocution lessons at the Peabody Institute. My dad drove me to the Peabody every Saturday for piano lessons, and gave her a ride there too. In exchange, she gave me free elocution lessons! During that time, she became engaged to her husband, and I remember how happy she was. She was an amazing lady, and I will miss her dearly. Howard joins me in extending our deepest sympathies to you.

Michele Cabnet Elover

Posted at 01:59pm
I never met Shirley Brown. I attended Howard Park Elementary School in Baltimore MD. I watched her show Let's Tell A Story on Channel 13. It was sponsored by Baltimore City Public Schools and t.v. station. The teacher brought the portable black and white tv on a stand with wheels to the classroom to watch the show. She really had a way to tell stories to keep children's attention. We did not have cable, internet and tv was free. No remote. Just turn a knob. I remember the show was on TV between 9;00am-10;00am. If i was home sick, I could watch the show at home. My parents did not have to spend money for cable or internet. There should be more people like her with the expression to tell stories to young children to keep their attention.

Jeffrey M Coleman

Posted at 01:50pm
Always enjoyed her warm smile and how well she always related to people. Her kindness to me was always a welcome event at family times.

Doug Lessans

Posted at 12:42pm
Bob, Jerry and family. So sorry for your loss. Shirley was a special lady.

Ceil, Ron, Bonnie, Myra & Harvey

Posted at 10:20am
Bob, Jerry and family - we are so sorry for your loss. Shirley had an incomparable style evidenced by her many accomplishments. May her memory be for a blessing.

Debbie Attman

Posted at 10:08am
Marc and I remember your mom as a star from television and for me a neighbor’s mom! Her legacy taught Baltimore children the beauty of reading!! She will truly be missed but never forgotten!

Barbara and Michael Hettleman

Posted at 10:01am
We met the Browns almost 60 years ago when we moved across the street on Shelleydale Drive. Throughout the years our meetings have always been warm and cordial. Shirley was always a dear person: upbeat, happy, our ceramics guru, and, genuinely, a friend. She had a great run! Jerry and Bobby, your Mom leaves an exquisite legacy, as did your Dad. We mourn with you as we celebrate a long and loving life and we send our sincerest condolences.

Lois Wolf

Posted at 07:52am
I never met Shirley, but fondly recall her television show, storytelling with young children. She had a way of engaging youngsters with her gift of expression. She was one of many who influenced me to embark on a career in Pre-School education.

Sally T Grant

Posted at 07:28am
So many years go we worked together in the Lecture Group. She was chair and asked me to head the program committee. We were able to bring so many excellent speakers to the Wednesday group.
Good memories. Condolences to all the family.

Dennis Herman

Posted at 09:47pm
Janie and I express our condolences to Jerry, Bobby, and family. Lovely memories

Jo Ann Lippman Klein

Posted at 03:49pm
Our family lived next door to you, but on Fairlane Drive. I remember with fondness your beautiful Mom and Grandmother reading to us on television when we were young. May the memories of happy moments shared with her heal your broken hearts in the days ahead.

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