James Edward Brown, 64, of Mount Joy, died at home on Monday, June 7, 2021 after a valiant 2 ½ year fight against cancer. He was surrounded by the love of his adoring wife and partner, Barbara Howard, family, and friends right up to his final breath.
James was born in Ephrata, PA on July 28, 1956, to Oscar and Mary (Leiphart) Brown. He was the youngest of three children. His oldest brother, Michael, was 16 years older than James and he cared for him as if he were his child! James has many wonderful memories of spending summers at his brother’s in NYC where Michael took him to museums and taught him about good food, art, and architecture! He always enjoyed visiting his brother David and talking about music and their shared interest in old houses and antiques. James graduated from McCaskey High School and completed a certificate program in Electronics at the former Stevens Trade School. Electronics was the focus of the rest of his career, working as an Electronics Technician in defense, aircraft and audio electronics.
On January 17, 1981, James met Barb at a mutual friend’s party. They were both 24. James was working at ISC and Barb was in college. They hit it off from the moment the met…with shared interests in music, art, literature and politics…and talked, laughed and danced the night away. From that moment forward for the next 40 ½ years, they were together, playing music, talking, laughing, hiking, traveling, rehabbing their old houses, cooking together, raising their four-legged children (dogs and cats), and supporting one another through the easy and the hard times. They were a team! And when James was diagnosed with cancer, going through one treatment after another and Barb became his caregiver, they were happy just to remain close to one another, sitting on the sofa reading and talking about the news of the day or watching one of their favorite shows.
James quick and crazy wit, will always be remembered by his friends, family, work buddies and the hospital staff. It was guaranteed to show up in any conversation….occasionally raising a few eyebrows in his earlier years, but as he grew older, lightening tension, bringing a smile or just making people shake their heads (especially Barb) while trying to figure out how he ever made that connection! At Sechan, his last and favorite place of employment, one of his work buddies said James will always be remembered for, “his humor, his warm and friendly and fantastic personality, and his willingness to help anyone at any time,” and then added, “from a technical standpoint his intelligence and knowledge of electronics was valued by all!” At Penn State Hershey, no matter what he was going through, James somehow managed to greet everyone with a smile and was always interested in their lives, from where they were from, to (due to his passion for cooking) what they were having for lunch or dinner! When he was in inpatient, nursing staff would pop in just to say “hi” and have a quick chat. He was always amazed that they liked him so much!
And music, after Barb (she hopes) and their dog Stella, was his love! He started taking guitar lessons while in elementary school and found his favorite in 6 and 12 string acoustics, flat picking with a percussive style. He jammed with Barb and their friends (especially in Marietta!) and played in groups occasionally, and just loved to sit out in the backyard and bang out tunes that ranges from blues to blue grass and punk to folk. He also loved listening to music from their collection of nearly 1500 albums and CDs that he had uploaded to the cloud which included music of all genres. Music was a place in which he found endless energy and comfort.
When James was diagnosed with cancer (Non-Hodgkin’s, Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma), he and Barb chose Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute, after seeking several opinions. The Oncological team of doctors, nurses, and PA’s were experts in the field, along with being kind and caring. And during the days of COVID and with James’ extended hospital stays, the staff became his and Barb’s social circle, as well. They were able to bring joy and friendship into their lives when they weren’t able to see family or friends. All through his many treatments during those 2 ½ years James heroically continued with two transplant (stem cell and car-t cell) and more chemotherapy, always saying that he couldn’t let people down! If a treatment didn’t work for him, it would give data that could be used to help others to survive. He felt it was something he could give.
When James finally chose to come home from a 2 month stay in the hospital and begin care from Hospice and Community Care, he was able to spend time with Barb and their pup, Stella, and the many friends and relatives who were finally able to stop in and visit. He never tired if the company and it lifted his spirits so much during the last two weeks of his life.
James is survived by his wife Barb, brother David (married to Sharon), and niece Anna Lawler (married to Jake Stein) and their two children Rachel and Will. He is predeceased by his parents, Oscar and Mary, and his eldest brother Michael Lawler (Anna’s father).
Services will be private at the convenience of the family.
James and Barb were so thankful and endlessly appreciative for the excellent care he received at Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute and from Hospice and Community Care, and therefore, in lieu of flowers, please send contributions to Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute, 400 University Dr., Hershey PA 17033 or cancer.psu.edu, or Hospice & Community Care, P.O. Box 4125, Lancaster PA 17604-4125 or hospiceconnect.org.