“There’s a song that Colleen, John, Candi (Pickrell) Austin, & Shari sang sometimes at the Assembly Church, called Freely, Freely. Two lines especially remind me so much of Colleen and how she continued to be a light and joy in her life, sharing God’s love with others many others: “And in Jesus’ name I come to you, to share His love as he taught me to.” Which is exactly what Colleen did.” ~ Shari Shelton, 2021
Colleen Anne Brown (née Florian), loving mother, sister, wife and friend, passed away surrounded by family during the evening of May 1, 2021 at her home in Ketchikan, Alaska after a long illness. Colleen was welcomed into the family of Marilyn & Ken Florian, and her big sister Kathy, on Feb. 9, 1951 in Poulsbo, WA. More children blessed the family in the next nine years: Shari, Mike, Konni, & Karen. On December 18, 1971, she married John Sherman Brown and they had three children, Trevor, Jenny, and Tracy. After almost 50 years of marriage, she will be dearly missed by all.
A longtime resident of Ketchikan, Colleen wore many hats as a school teacher at Clover Pass Christian School, as a piano teacher for multiple generations of children and adults, as a custom picture framer, and as a crafter, whose Blueberry Festival booth could be reliably found in the same corner for over 12 years. She designed puppets, wove baskets, arranged dried flowers, and sold both Mary Kay Cosmetics and Watkins at various points throughout her life. Indeed, Colleen’s desire to be useful and create beautiful things (music, paintings, crafts) was a defining trait throughout her life.
In 1964, an event happened that changed the course of the lives of Colleen’s family. Her mother had been attending church and some Sing & Share Bible studies and became a Christian. Marilyn had been praying for Kenneth, her husband, and one night he too went to a meeting and gave his life to God. Colleen was 13, and her family witnessed an immediate change in their Dad. He was a quiet man and was now bursting with excitement about God and Jesus, talking to everyone he knew about it all, and was miraculously and immediately healed of alcoholism at this time. In fact, when meeting her future husband upon his return from service in Vietnam, some of her first words to him were “I’m not interested in dating anyone who’s not a Christian.” Colleen demonstrated her relationship with Christ through the love she shared with her family, friends, and anyone in need of help. She was generous with her time and support and attended the First Lutheran Church, Assembly of God Church, and was a founding member of South Tongass Alliance Church.
Colleen’s family moved to Ketchikan in 1964 when her father became captain of the Malaspina. This move would be a mostly permanent one for Colleen, who graduated from Ketchikan High School in 1969. She worked as a marine operator in the summer before she left for college at Northwest Bible College and continued to come to Ketchikan during the summers until she graduated from Seattle Pacific University in 1976 with a degree in teaching with a specialty in Art. She taught 7th and 8th grade at Clover Pass Christian School for several years and spent most of the past 30 years providing custom framing to artists and other folks around town. Many buildings and homes have one or more pictures framed by Colleen and Company on their walls.
Colleen’s favorite past times included playing the piano, painting, drawing, and spending time with her grandkids, Regan and Arlo Brown. She was happiest when she was busy and loved being with the people she held dear, which was almost everyone she’d ever met.
Colleen is survived by her husband, John, sons Trevor (Ben) Brown and Tracy (Kelly) Brown, Daughter Jennifer Brown, grandchildren Regan Brown and Arlo Brown, as well as sisters Kathy (Mike) Verbarendse, Shari (Al) Shelton, Konni (Steve) Ortiz, Karen (Dan) MacMillan, and brother Mike (Debbie) Florian and numerous cousins and nieces and nephews on the Florian and Mariner sides of the family. She was preceded in death by her father, Kenneth Florian, and mother, Marilyn Florian.
A memorial service will be held at South Tongass Alliance Church in Ketchikan, Alaska on June 5, 2021 at 11:30 a.m. Her ashes will be scattered later this summer along the Oregon Coast. In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to the Alaska Chapter of the Alzheimer’s association (http://www.alz.org/alaska). Condolences can be care of John Brown, 2501 2nd Ave., Ketchikan, AK 99901.
The Brown family would like to thank the amazing care team at Peacehealth’s Home Health department, Nell Klein, and the Ketchikan Volunteer Hospice. Their support along with that of family’s and friends allowed us to usher Mom whole into heaven, where she was reunited with her parents and waits for us in the future.