Obituaries detail

Jane Byrd Brown

November 29, 1924 - March 29, 2021


Jane Byrd Brown, age 96, of Overland Park, Kansas passed away on March 29, 2021 from exceeding her body’s warranty. Until the last year, she had no chronic illness, leading a relatively healthy life. This is amazing given that she learned to smoke at age 6 while living on an African tobacco farm – and the habit continued until age 90. She was lucky in this and other regards.


To the end, Jane was mentally sharp and witty – reading the entire newspaper daily. She made friends everywhere she went. She was sociable and well-liked. She had a good sense of humor and was a good storyteller. She was kind and generous. She possessed a certain kind of southern charm, disrupted by the occasional “Hot Damn” and “Oh, Hell”. This was part of her style and made her endearing. We all considered her very special, and she was loved so much.


Jane was born in New Albany, Indiana as Emily Jane Byrd, but never cared for the first name of Emily. In her early years, her family moved to Angola, Africa in connection to an RJ Reynold’s tobacco project. Upon returning, she lived in the Louisville, KY area. She attended multiple universities, earning a degree in history. She married J.F. Brown in 1952 – living in multiple locations along the Ohio River, before settling in Midland, MI. She finally moved to Overland Park, KS in her 80’s to be close to family.


Jane lived in an amazing time of progress and change – and appreciated it. Like the times, she adapted and was never rigid in her beliefs. This was most evident in her politics. She read profusely and often volunteered. She was a true centrist, understanding both sides of any issue and choosing the middle stance. As the political pendulum swung left and right, her affiliation changed accordingly – usually opposite the extreme. First and foremost, she was a humanist, wanting the best for all.   


Jane was athletic in an era when girls’ sports were non-existent and socially unacceptable. Her sport of choice was tennis – and she was quite good. She “looked like a lady and served liked a man” was an often-repeated compliment back in the days. During the 1970’s, she and others championed girl’s tennis in the Midland, Mi public schools and succeeded. This was extremely gratifying to her.  


As some odd tidbits, Jane drank hot tea (with milk) nonstop. She had a lead-foot while driving - which continued in her motorized wheelchair. She solved the Jumble word puzzle daily (found in newspapers). She is renowned for homemade bread, cinnamon butter and serving up shortbread cookies. She was made an honorable “Kentucky Colonel” for her political work in the 1960’s. She fancied card games of all types but was best at Bridge – easily memorizing all cards played. She played a LOT of solitaire. She loved playing dominoes and Rummikub with granddaughters and daughter. She also enjoyed misbehaving in small ways.


Jane is survived by daughter Melinda of Edwards, CO. and son Edward (with wife Beverly) of Prairie Village, KS. Living nearby are granddaughters Kelsey (with husband Torre Norton) and Kathryn Brown, as well as great grandson Calvin. She took pride in her family and their individual endeavors.


Jane’s request was to “Go up in flames” (cremation). She didn’t want a viewing nor a service. The family will hold their own celebration-of-life tribute. Afterward, her ashes will be buried at a scenic Lexington, KY cemetery next to family. No donations are asked – only a fond remembrance.  


Stacy Spornitz Mar 31 ,2021

CMA/Friend ,Olathe ,Kansas

Dear family, I am sorry for your loss. She was an extraordinary woman and I looked forward to our morning conversation while she complained about the number of meds I gave her. Many times she would say, "I love to see you each morning, but I hate what you bring with you!" She was very loved and she will be missed terribly. Sending hugs your way, Stacy

Laurie Van Cleve Mar 31 ,2021

Friend of Melinda ,Anthem ,Arizona

My thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family, Melinda. Your mother was a woman ahead of her time. Peace to you during this time of remembrance.

Kathi McGuire Apr 01 ,2021

None ,Bedford ,Kentucky

Reading this I felt like I knew her when I didn't. What a wonderful full life!! Great memories for the family to cherish. My condolences!

Carla Carder Knack Apr 01 ,2021

Daughter’s friend ,Florida

What a life-affirming, witty tribute to Mrs.Brown! On her own terms as expected 🤗 I will always cherish the fun memories of her being one of the “village of mothers” who greatly and positively influenced my early childhood. Godspeed, Mrs.Brown, on your next adventure! You are beloved. Melinda & Edward (who I apologize to for tormenting as my ‘adopted’ little brother), you and your family are tucked up under my heart as you grieve the loss of such an amazing Mother.

Laurie Hoffman Apr 01 ,2021

Friend, fellow H.H.Dow high school graduate ,Oakton ,Virginia

Wish I had known your mom. She sounds terrific. Will be thinking if you and your family.

Judy White Apr 01 ,2021

Friend of Melinda ,Huntington Beach ,California

Melinda, so sorry to hear of your Mother’s passing. It seems she had an amazing, full life to the end. My thoughts and prayers are with you and all your family at this time🙏

Sarah Cox Apr 01 ,2021

Friend of Melinda ,Phoenix ,Arizona

So sorry to hear of your mother’s passing but what a life she lived. After reading her obituary, I better understand you! How lucky you were to have such a great Mom.

Jean M. Bean Apr 01 ,2021

friend of Melinda ,Rochester Hills ,Michigan

What an amazing and dynamic lady. Wish I had a chance to have met her. She definitely went on her own terms which I hope we all can do. Melinda, I hope you know you are in our prayers and thoughts during this difficult time. Love to you and Cheers to your wonderful mom!

Kristy (Zitta) Avery Apr 01 ,2021

Melinda’s Classmate & Friend ,Kalkaska ,Michigan

Dear Melinda & Family, It was a pleasure to meet your Mom through her lovely, well-written obituary. What an amazing life! What amazing curiosity, knowledge, compassion and sense of humor. Melinda, you definitely inherited many of her traits. It’s heartbreaking to lose someone so special and still so young at heart. She is marching on somewhere else, still making waves. Cheers to her memory! RIP. Hugs to you, Melinda, whenever you need one.

Patrick Montgomery Apr 01 ,2021

nephew ,Shelter Island ,New York

Hi Melinda and Edward - My best wishes to both of you and your families. Even though we had not seen Jane for a when we still have very fond memories of her visit, with Melinda and the White clan, to Shelter Island. She was lucky to have lived a long full life, and as you said, witness many changes. You all are in our thoughts. Patrick

Jeanne MONTGOMERY Apr 02 ,2021

Niece ,DECATUR ,Georgia

What a wonderful description of Aunt Jane. I wish I would have known her better. She sounds like a kind,smart and funny person. I love that she was involved in politics as am I. She sounds like she was open to ideas from both sides of the aisle.

Becky Sears Apr 02 ,2021

Her Midland Hairstylist and Friend ,Venice ,Florida

I was so sorry to see Your Mother and Grandmothers Obituary. She was Truly an amazing LADY and Your Obituary was a True Testimony. I left my email address and would like to share more with you. My Deepest Sympathy To All Of You. Becky and John Sears

Deborah Williams Apr 03 ,2021

Friend of Melinda ,Troy ,Michigan

I am so glad I had the opportunity to meet your mom so many years ago. In her obituary I recognized the spirit and humor noted back in the day still shining through. And, I see so much of her in Melinda's strength of character, too. My prayers are with you all.

Abbie McKnight, DDS Apr 04 ,2021

Jane was a patient in our office for many years and we always looked forward to her visits. She was so spunky and bright, sharing her recipes and giving sage advice. We will miss her sweet disposition and her amazing attitude.

Rick Bergstein Apr 05 ,2021

Friend ,Midland ,Michigan

Hey Melinda and Eduardo So sorry for your loss we had great times together with your family Quite a lady and good friend to ours she was a southern lady and a terror on the courts! BJ KING personified