Alda Mae Weber Brown was born in Salina, Kansas, on 1 October 1923 to Oliver and Lyda Weber, who were descendants of Swiss and German homesteaders. As a child she carried water on her pony to men working the fields of her uncle’s farm, was active in the Girl Scouts, and at one point sang weekly on the radio. During the Great Depression, her family moved to Boulder, Colorado. Her father often received payment in kind for his services as a lawyer—chickens, catfish, milk, etc.—and also lessons for Alda in singing, dance and elocution. At Boulder High School, Alda displayed a remarkable talent for acting. In June 1941, she won first place among 500 participants at the first annual national high school drama contest of the National Thespian Society held on the campus of Indiana University.
She was an accomplished artist, primarily in sculpture and painting and received a scholarship to the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center where she studied under Boardman Robinson. After a pulmonary embolism, she returned to Boulder and enrolled at the University of Colorado. In 1943 she met Robert Lindale Brown, son of the President of Drew University in New Jersey and a U.S. Marine Corps 2nd lieutenant who was studying at the Navy’s Japanese Language School. Through the years, they laughed that "The Tennessee Waltz" accurately described their whirlwind courtship. They married 1 January 1944. Their son Eric arrived in February 1945 while Bob was in the Pacific War. Alda lived with her baby in a cabin in Estes Park, Colorado, until Bob came home in 1946. In 1948 Bob joined the Central Intelligence Agency, and the family moved over his 22-year career to posts in Bangkok, Hong Kong, Frankfurt, Munich, and Williamsburg.
In 1970, after Bob’s final tour in Vietnam, they retired to Windhover, their home on the East River in Mathews, Virginia. After Bob passed away in 1995, Alda returned to Williamsburg, and lived at the Williamsburg Landing. Throughout her life she expressed herself artistically through drawing, painting, sculpture, and creative and ecclesiastical embroidery. An Episcopalian for more than half a century, she enjoyed Bible study and attended Christ Church, Kingston Parish, Mathews, for many years. She is remembered for her devotion to her 51-year marriage, her kindness and encouragement to others, love of animals, stoicism in the face of life’s adversities, and for her good humor and lively wit.
Alda departed this life in the early hours of 16 June 2011, her son Robert and granddaughter Emily holding her hands. She is survived by her loving children, Eric Lindale Brown of Columbus, Ohio, Lucy Lindale Brown of Washington, D.C., Arlo Ayres Brown III of Tokyo, Japan, and Robert Andrew Brown of Mathews; as well as grandchildren, Arlo IV, Alexander, Maria, Andrew, Nathan Thoreson, Anjuli Agarwal, Katherine, Christian, Emily and Nicole.
Godspeed, Alda. We will miss you dearly.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the American Red Cross or the Humane Society in Alda’s memory.
Funeral arrangements are pending.