Marilyn Brown, a former president of the League of Women Voters of Huntington and a loving mother to two sons, died of heart failure May 13 at Good Samaritan Hospital in West Islip, her family said. She was 92.
Brown was born Marilyn Shilkret on Oct. 11, 1924, in Manhattan. She grew up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan with her brother, Warner, and her parents, Rose and Jack Shilkret, a well-known composer and recording artist. Her brother was born Warner Neil Shilkret but later changed his name to Neil Warner, and had a prolific musical career in TV, advertising and on Broadway.
Brown graduated from Hunter College High School on the Upper East Side and later received a degree in education from New York University. There she met her future husband, Dan Brown, said their son, Richard Brown, 60, of Farmington, Connecticut.
The two began dating before Dan began his service in the Navy during World War II. They married in 1947 and were “inseparable” until Dan’s death last October, Richard Brown said.
“They were soul mates,” said Judy Gorenstein, a friend who worked with Brown while she was involved in the League of Women Voters of Huntington. “They did everything together and just loved life.”
Brown taught first- and second-grade students for more than 20 years. Her first teaching job was in Harlem. She later taught in Newark and New Rochelle, her son said.
“She really believed in children and in fostering the next generation,” Richard Brown said. “She really felt for and loved all the children she taught.”
The Browns moved to Dix Hills when Dan opened a series of furniture stores across Long Island. Brown quickly became involved in the League of Women Voters of Huntington and later served as the organization’s president. In that role she organized several voter registration drives and was an advocate for creating more affordable housing in the town, according to her longtime friend, Huntington Town Clerk Jo-Ann Raia.
“She just felt that everyone should exercise their right to vote and she’d always stress that you can’t complain after the fact if you didn’t vote,” Raia said. “Her passing is definitely a great loss to the organization.”
Brown and her husband lived fully, Raia said. They traveled extensively, frequently hosted guests from all over the world and loved the arts. Brown was a talented pianist and Dan was an accomplished sculptor, whose artwork could be found in every room of their Dix Hills home, Gorenstein said.
Richard Brown remembered his mother as “loving, kind and endlessly supportive.”
When he started working at a radio station in Riverhead, Brown would drive out to Exit 52 on the Long Island Expressway every day so she could tune into his noon broadcasts, Richard Brown said. Years later, when he began a career as an author in New Mexico and was struggling to finish a book, Brown flew there to spur him on.
“She would stay up all night with me, night after night, until that book was done,” Richard said. “She was always full of love and always encouraging me.”
In addition to her son, Brown is survived by another son, Michael Brown, 65, of Ithaca.
A funeral for Marilyn Brown was held May 16 at the I.J. Morris Funeral Home in Dix Hills. She was buried at Mount Golda Cemetery in Huntington Station.