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Miriam Brown dead; chemist, 4-time ‘Jeopardy!’ champ was 86

Miriam Brown, 86, of Sayville, died May 19,

Miriam Brown, 86, of Sayville, died May 19, 2017. Credit: Brown family

Miriam Brown, an advocate for children with autism, a cosmetics patent holder, a four-time ‘‘Jeopardy!’’ champion and a speaker of five languages, had wide-ranging interests that included early research into organ transplantation, her family said.

Brown died of heart failure May 19 at her Sayville home. She was 86.

“Miriam excelled in a variety of pursuits with seeming effortlessness,” said her son, Marshall Brown III, 58, of Manhasset.

Born Aug. 13, 1930, in Bridgeport, Connecticut, Miriam at age 16 won a full scholarship in a national contest sponsored by PepsiCo, said her son. She chose to attend Barnard College in Manhattan, where she majored in chemistry and art history.

After graduating in 1951, Brown took part in early research that attempted to transplant pigs’ kidneys, her son said. She also was a restorer of wicker furniture.

Brown married Marshall W. Brown Jr. in 1953, and the couple moved to his hometown, Babylon Village, where they raised four children. In 1965, the couple moved to Sayville, where their fifth child was born.

While her husband, a consultant engineer, traveled for work, Brown stayed home to care for the children.

Her daughter Susan Brown of Sayville was born with autism at a time when few children were diagnosed with the disorder. Through her advocacy, Brown helped schools establish programs for Susan and other children with autism.

Brown’s commitment to Susan helped her eldest daughter become a well-known artist whose works have been shown in numerous shows, including the United Nations and the annual Outsider Art Fair in Manhattan.

In 1968, Brown became a contestant on the game show ‘‘Jeopardy!’’ and won four times, said her son. On the fifth round, Brown and her opponent gave an incorrect answer, her son said. But Brown lost because she bet $30 more than her opponent.

In all, she won a total of $2,310.

“That was a lot of money for us back then,” her son said.

In the early 1980s, Brown won a cooking contest sponsored by The Russian Tea Room, which featured her dish — layered potato pancake and sour cream with lamb and walnuts — as a lunch special on the restaurant’s menu for a time, according to her son.

In 1996, she received a patent on a process that enabled the use of salicylic acid in cosmetics.

After her children were grown, Brown went to work for a Stony Brook-based cosmetic company that was a vendor for Estee Lauder Cos., a manufacturer and marketer of skin care, makeup, fragrance and hair care products.

Brown is also survived by three other daughters, Barbara Brown Chasman of Laguna Niguel, California, Claudia Ellen Brown of Northport, and Constance Brown Ceklarz of Moorpark, California; and eight grandchildren.

A memorial service was held May 31 at Raynor and D’Andrea Funeral Home in West Sayville, with cremation and interment at St. Ann’s Cemetery in Sayville.

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