Cynthia F. Brown

Cynthia Fabyan Brown

March 18, 1920 – March 27, 2019

Formerly of Suffern and Sloatsburg, NY

Cynthia (Cynnie) Fabyan Brown passed away March 27, 2019, after suffering a stroke. Her daughter, Bunny (Helen) Brown, and close friend, Noel Fernandez, were at her side.

Cynnie was born in Boston, MA, to Everett Westcott Fabyan and Frances Pearsall Field. She spent her childhood there, as well as in New York City, Sloatsburg, NY, and Red Bank, NJ. She learned to sail at this time, a passion that stayed with her for the rest of her life. She attended elementary school at Miss Hewitt's (The Hewitt School) in New York City, and graduated from Miss Hall's School in Pittsfield, MA.

After marrying Archer Brown in 1940, she moved to a farm in Towson, MD, where she had three children, and raised animals and crops. Cynnie loved to hunt and shoot trap, was good at both, and taught her children how to handle guns. Years later, as adults, her family discovered that she was shooting with one eye, as her right eye was legally blind.

During the Great Depression and World War II, when self-sufficiency was at a premium, Cynnie annually planted vegetable gardens, even after moving to Sloatsburg, and became very adept at fencing out woodchucks. She continued to garden in Suffern after her children were grown, thwarting the woodchucks well into her 80s. In Sloatsburg, Cynnie had three more children, and all six were put to work planting, cultivating, weeding and harvesting what would be their vegetables for the winter months. Not surprisingly, all went on to have gardens of their own. Cynnie made jam every year, and for the fruit, she took her family to pick blueberries in Bear Mountain swamps, huckleberries in the Catskills, and fox grapes growing wild in meadows and at the sunny edges of woods.

Cynnie had a lifelong curiosity about nature and science, which she supplemented through books, through her photography and hiking in the woods. She was rarely seen without her camera bag with its cameras and various lenses. She set up her own darkroom and taught her children how to use it. She loved local history and spent many weekends hiking in and around the Ramapo Mountains. One of her favorite spots was Sterling Lake in Tuxedo, NY. She was an active environmentalist in Rockland County.

Intrepid, she taught herself how to mend the lawn mower, cane and upholster chairs, refinish wood furniture, hang wallpaper, and, at 80 years, took apart a window in her house in Suffern to rehang the weights so it would open and close again. She had a wonderful sense of humor and would from time to time wake from a dream laughing at herself or at a funny event in her dream. At 89, when she fell in the garage and fractured her pelvis, she grabbed a shovel and a hoe to crutch her way back into the house to call for help.

In the late 1960s, Cynnie joined the Ramapo Central School District as a secretary to the principal at Airmont School in Airmont, NY, and Cherry Lane School in Tallman, NY. She soon moved to Suffern and made many close and lasting friendships during her tenure there.

It's hard to do justice to a mother's many legacies, and her surviving children feel that having had her with them for so many years has made their lives richer. Her life spirit is carried on in her surviving family through Cynthia (Sibby) Coxhead, of Mountain View, CA, Frances and Martin Nankin, of Bloomingburg, NY, Bunny (Helen) Brown, of Monroe, NY, and daughter-in-law, Barbara Farissier Brown, of Santa Fe, New Mexico. Her sons, Archer, Malcolm, and Richard Brown predeceased her, as did her daughter-in-law, Marjorie Johnson Brown. Cynnie is also survived by ten grandchildren, eleven great grandchildren, and one great-great grandchild.

An announcement will be made for a memorial service in July at St. Elizabeth's Chapel, in Tuxedo, NY.

In lieu of flowers, please send contributions to your favorite charity in her memory.

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