Elisabeth Brewster Potts Brown

Brown—Elisabeth Brewster Potts Brown, 78, on July 6, 2018, of an unexpected heart attack, in her beloved summer home in Pocono Lake Preserve, Pa., where she had spent her final days in a week-long family reunion. A birthright Friend, Betsy was born on July 19, 1939, in Philadelphia, Pa., the oldest daughter of Jane Elisabeth McCord and Edward Rhoads Potts. She grew up in Southampton (Pa.) Meeting and lived in Bryn Gweled Homesteads in Bucks County, Pa., an intentional community founded by Friends.; attended Abington Friends School; and graduated from George School.

She met Allan Brown through connections at Swarthmore College, and they married in 1962. In 1963–65 they lived in Vietnam, working at the American School in Saigon—Betsy in the school library and Allan as a teacher. After returning to Philadelphia, they belonged to Germantown Meeting in Philadelphia. Once the children reached school-age, she earned a bachelor’s degree from University of Pennsylvania and a master’s degree in library science from Drexel University. She was a librarian at Medical College of Pennsylvania, American College of Financial Services, and Springside School before serving as the bibliographer for Haverford College Library Quaker Collection for the final 20 years of her career. She was also secretary of Friends Historical Association for many years and a member of Germantown Friends School Committee.

After she and Allan divorced in 1988, she lived in intentional neighborhood Tanguy Homesteads until 2002, when she retired and moved to the final unit in newly formed Jackson Place Cohousing in Seattle, Wash., in time for the birth of her first grandchild. She transferred her membership to University Meeting in Seattle and then to South Seattle Meeting when it became a monthly meeting. Her kind, direct wisdom helped guide the formation of the meeting and leavened weighty issues at her faithful attendance at business meetings. She was recording clerk for several years, a member of the Arrangements Committee, and an integral member of the Older Friends group.

A conservationist and lover of nature with Quaker values in all aspects of her life, she was devoted to her family and community and always looking for a way she could help. Her home life was spare, but she was generous with her possessions, her time, and her love. She enjoyed music, math, and language; was curious about the way things worked; and was a lifelong learner and constant reader with a wry and quirky sense of humor. She loved fast cars and in an alternate life would have been a race car driver; the Mini Cooper she owned near the end of her life was a dream come true and a nod to that other self.

Her final few years were difficult, as she struggled with anxieties stemming from mental illness and confusion from the early stages of dementia. In 2016 she moved to the Horizon House retirement community, where she was involved in the library, choir, worship group, and cat lovers circle. Friends remember her as kind, cheerful, caring, intelligent, and straightforward, with a ready smile and a bit of a silly side that endeared her to all.

Betsy is survived by her children, Jonathan Wistar Brown, Rebecca More, and Sarah Elisabeth Brown.

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