Mary Agnes Browne (nee Kirsch), 97, a longtime resident of Oak Park, died on Aug. 21, 2020. 

Born in Syracuse, New York, on Oct. 16, 1922, her family moved to Oak Park in 1927 when she was 5 years old and she lived almost her entire life in the house her parents built on Woodbine Avenue. She attended Oak Park schools and Oak Park churches. She did two years at DePauw University before returning home to help take care of her father. She was an executive secretary at Marshall Field’s downtown store and loved working on the same floor as the restaurants and food section.

 She met her future husband, William (Bill) Browne at a church social, where he impressed her by fixing the record player. They nurtured a family and a business in Oak Park. In addition, Mary contributed her time and support to many local efforts, volunteering for school functions and PTA, as a member of the board at the Nineteenth Century Club (especially the Scholarship Committee), the Women’s Guild at the First Presbyterian Church, the Infant Welfare Society, the local chapter of the American Cancer Society, the Oak Park and River Forest Day Nursery, the Oak Park Country Club, Phi Sigma and others. 

She was “Mom” to four children; keeper of traditions; occasional gardener, handy with needles, thread and yarn; recounter of family history; household manager; a rock when someone was sick; creator of beautiful holiday tables; a talented baker; and competitive at Spoons, Chinese Checkers and Double Solitaire. She traveled with Bill to many foreign locations and was always happy to come home. Her favorite other place was Door County, Wisconsin, where she walked the beach, explored the peninsula, and spent time with her extended family. 

She left behind good memories of a life well and graciously lived. 

Mary was the wife of the late William B.; the mother of Meredith Upward, Carolyn, J. Danforth (Carol), and Nancy (Frederick Herbine); grandmother of Benjamin (Jennifer), Andrew (Danielle), Stephen, Michael, Lauren and Quinn, and great-grandmother of Ryan, Gavin, Nolan, Conrad and Carolyn Claire. She was the daughter of Agnes Mackie Kirsch and James Lewis Kirsch, also of Oak Park.  

A private family service will be held, followed by internment at the First United Church of Oak Park Memory Garden. A larger celebration of Mary’s life may be held in the future. 

No flowers, thanks, but donations to the Ridges Nature Sanctuary ( or the Nineteenth Century Charitable Association ( are appreciated.

Arrangements were handled by Drechsler, Brown & Williams Funeral Home.

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