OBITUARY

Norma Jean V. Brown

August 15, 1939October 5, 2020
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Norma Jean Brown passed away peacefully in her sleep surrounded by family on Monday the 5th of October. She was 81 years of age. She was born one the 15th of August to Dr. Benjamin Clark Vega and Dorothy Picou Vega.

We have lost a great mind and a bright light in our world but she will be forever a loving committed parent, gifted dancer, trusted faithful friend, strong Catholic, staunch sports fan committed to her LSU Tigers, and a champion for the Arts and Education. Norma Jean was a perpetual volunteer, a traveler, culinary genius, stalwart for the disabled. Norma Jean was the mother to 2 children who carry on her love of the arts, strength and passion for helping others. In her leadership roles she raised hundreds of thousands of dollars and enriched people’s lives forever.

Her biggest triumph was getting Bill 94-14 made into Law, making it so State schools to this day are responsible, for educating all children with disabilities.

One of her most favorite accomplishments was getting her Masters of Library Science in her 50’s, which included a month long study at Winterthur Museum. This was such a dream for Norma Jean as a lifelong collector of fine Antiques. Traveling around the world to historic places, seeing original Artwork along with the Cathedrals of the past and enjoying food from the regions with her daughter or friends was another of her passions. Norma Jean’s fundraising and non-profit work started out in the Junior League of Baton Rouge, in Detroit (President) and later Houston. She formed her network and soon took on bigger roles for her Sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta as their Rush Chairman 94-95, and eventually Chairing the Theta Charity Antique Show in 1996. The Twin Star Award was bestowed on her in 2005 for her long-term service to Theta. Norma Jean served on the Board of the Woman’s fund and chaired their annual Luncheon in 2001. Her lifelong love of history and American Antiques opened up other doors of interest, including The Bayou Bend Collection where she was a Docent until her death. Norma Jean took leadership positions often. She served the BBDO as General Chairman 2003-2004, General Chair-Elect 2002-2003, Advisor 2004-2005, Group Tour Chair 1999, Recording Secretary 2000-2001, and hosted many August luncheons. In 2019, the year of the Theta Antique Show Finale, she served as a Theta docent in the Special Tour of Bayou Bend featuring items in the collection donated as permanent beneficiaries of the Theta Antique Shows.”

She was the recipient of the 20 and 30-year butterfly service pins. Training and further education for Docents new and seasoned was a joy for Norma Jean as she headed the Bayou Bend Study group. She was a champion for Ms. Ima’s dream. Norma Jean’s warm, graceful, fun loving way always saw people willing to work with and for her, bringing great minds together to reach a goal.

Norma Jean’s love of music both modern and classical was always evident with her forever love to dance, and later in life she was a strong active supporter and volunteer for The Houston Symphony League. Norma Jean’s first position on the Houston Symphony League board was as Vice-President for the Maestro Collection in 1997. Norma Jean was a Trustee for the Houston Symphony 2004-2005 season. Subsequent positions, held prior to her election as President for 2005-06, were Corresponding Secretary, VP of Symphony Scores (dinner series), Director-at-Large, and Recording Secretary. She represented the HSL as its representative to TASO ( Texas Association for Symphony Orchestras.). In 2012 Norma Jean was bestowed Ellen Kelley Volunteer of the Year.

Her service continued with the HSL by chairing Government Affairs & Advocacy.

As a lover of the ballet, ballroom dancing, symphony, opera, rock and roll, theatre and all types of art, she was sure to share it with her children and grandchildren who she loved dearly. Whether it was Magical Musical Mornings the Nutcracker, visiting any of the Museums in the Museum District and around the world or a Theatre camp, she loved seeing her children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews enjoying and taking part in the arts. Norma Jean’s involvement and commitment to her faith had many facets as a volunteer. She was a reader, Eucharistic Minister and later Baptism assistant at St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church. She has had a strong bond with the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Jesus over the years until her death. She will be missed by all her cherished friends, Betty Tutor, Sr. Sharon Karam, Virginia Van Horn, Lucy Lewis, Ms. Beth, Ms. Anne the Associates at Duchesne, The Dutch Treat Lunch Bunch group, all the various Bridge partners from over the years and oh so many more. Norma Jean is proceeded in death by her parents, her siblings Ben Vega and Ann LeMoine, and was widowed twice: Gene Bahlinger, her beloved husband for 8 years, and Charles Farrell Brown, married for 23 years. She was a fine matriarch in a family of matriarchs. She is survived by a multitude of cousins, nieces, nephews, her loving children, Eugene Thomas Bahlinger, Gretchen Spankie (Craig) and her beloved doting grandchildren, Eugene Kohl Bahlinger, Dorothy Picou, Eugene David and Angus Craig Spankie. Norma Jean, Jeannie, Gigi’s ability to touch so many will never be forgotten by all those who loved her.

A memorial mass is to be offered at one o’clock in the afternoon on Wednesday, the 21st of October at St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church, 1801 Sage Road in Houston. A recitation of the Holy Rosary is to commence at half past twelve o’clock. The mass will also be livestreamed and is accessible by accessing the "Join Livestream" down below.

KINDLY NOTE: due to the COVID-19 safety protocols in place, and for the health and safety of all attendees, St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church is limiting attendance. Masks are required for entry and temperatures will be taken at the door. The church kindly requests that those who plan to attend arrive early as the doors will be locked promptly at one o’clock.

Immediately following, all are invited to greet the family during a reception in the grand foyer of Geo H Lewis & Sons, 1010 Bering Drive.

In lieu of customary remembrances, the family requests with gratitude that memorial contributions in Norma Jean's name be directed to The Houston Symphony League, 615 Louisiana St. Suite 102, Houston, TX, 77002; or to Bayou Bend Docent Accessions Endowment, Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens, P.O. Box 25026 Houston, TX, 77265-5026; or to the Society of the Sacred Heart, USC Province, P.O. Box 958047, St. Louis, MO, 63195-8047.

  • DONATIONS

  • The Houston Symphony League
  • to Bayou Bend Docent Accessions Endowment, Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens
  • or to the Society of the Sacred Heart, USC Province

Services

  • Memorial Mass

    Wednesday, October 21, 2020

    VIEW VIDEO

  • Memorial Reception

    Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Memories

Norma Jean V. Brown

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Tammy Lanum

October 21, 2020

Norma Jean was the most wonderful grandmother to my son Kohl. I remember when he was 3 They would run in her living room when Winnie the pooh would come on and dance to the music. It was so adorable. They did it every day. Norma Jean was like a mom to me and I will cherish the times we spent with her. She will be deeply missed. I love you Norma Jean. I know you are so excited to have met Jesus and be with your loved ones in heaven

Dana Puddy

October 20, 2020

It was such a pleasure to get to know Norma Jean through our association with the Houston Symphony. In the 2005-2006 year she was President of the Houston Symphony League and I was President of the Houston Symphony League Bay Area. Since we were both widows, we would often attend Symphony events together to represent the two Leagues. Specifically, I recall such an enjoyable evening on Opening Night in September, 2005. Her wit, charm, and commitment to causes dear to her were inspirational to all of those who knew her. She will be missed!

Michele Gurley

October 13, 2020

Norma Jean was a wonderful woman and a dear friend.
She will be greatly missed.

Susan Wood

October 12, 2020

Norma Jean always had a twinkle in her eye and a smile to go with it. As President of the Houston Symphony League in 2005 - 2006 she oversaw Symphony Scores fund raising dinner parties. Bart Truxillo and I met with Norma Jean to confirm details for one. They were both obviously used to being the life of many parties and eager for any excuse to throw another. Her charm and enthusiasm will be missed by all who knew her.
-Susan Wood

Donna Mello

October 9, 2020

Norma Jean was a dear member of the Dutch Treat Lunch Bunch. Through the many years and many laughs, she had a sparkling whit and a beautiful smile. I will miss her terribly.
Donna Mello

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