In memory of
Martha Speck Brown
Martha Speck Brown November 15, 1951 - February 10, 2017 Resident of San Jose Martha Brown approached life on her own terms. Not the easiest path, nor the most obvious one, but always her own. She was never someone you could - or would want to - ignore in a room. The force of her personality was such that people often found themselves telling her things they might not tell anyone else. She always had some significant insight to offer, and referred to it as "having my sign on," meaning that she understood that people felt drawn to confiding in her. She took the responsibility seriously. Friday morning, after a six year battle with cancer, which she fought characteristically on her own tenacious terms (doctors had initially given her only six months), she passed away peacefully in San Jose. She is survived by Steve, her husband of 43 years, two sisters - Sarah and Beth Speck, niece Kate Speck and nephew John Trupin . Born in Elgin, Illinois, she grew up in nearby Barrington, the daughter of John and Ellen Speck. She graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and earned a Master's degree at Northern Illinois University. She taught at Harper College in Palatine, where she met Susan Cusack and helped pioneer a new approach to teaching Deaf students using tools developed to teach English as a Second Language. In 1990 she moved to San Jose, CA, working with Deaf students at Ohlone Community College. She worked at Ohlone until retiring in 2010 as Dean of Counseling. Her talent for languages - she spoke six - made her a born translator - of experiences, of places, and of people. She traveled extensively and was particularly drawn to "hanging out" in the small towns of Southern France, where she went often. Martha was invariably accompanied by her own soundtrack - music was a constant companion and her taste, appreciation and knowledge was deeply informed by the hundreds of concerts she attended. Her appetite for music, entertaining, cooking, gardening and family was voracious, consuming, and lifelong. She was a central presence in our lives and we will miss her terribly. In lieu of flowers, the family requests you donate to your favorite charity. A memorial service will be held sometime this spring In Barrington. View the online memorial for Martha Speck Brown
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