RED LODGE - Walburga Anna Brown, wife, mother, artist and business owner, passed away peacefully in her home on Jan. 4, 2009, in Red Lodge. She was 79.
Walburga (Walli) was born in Herzogwald, Czechoslovakia, on July 7, 1929, and was the fourth of eight children of Gustav Tögel and Josephine Koerper. She lived and worked on a small farm. In the early days of her life, it was a struggle just to survive in the midst of World War II. At the age of 17, she and her family were forced from their lands and home by the Russians to finally settle in Florsheim, Germany.
She met and married Lawrence E. Brown, an artillery officer in the United States Army. Lawrence and Walli shared many happy adventures together both in Europe and the United States and met many lifelong friends along the way, eventually settling in Red Lodge in 1970 - the native state of Lawrence.
With great entrepreneurial spirit, she opened "Geschenke" (which means gifts in German) in 1974, a European gift shop which was a favorite of both locals and travelers alike. The business started off originally by pressing local wildflowers from the Beartooth Mountains and also her various watercolors. Through sheer determination, she was able to expand her business to various locations in Montana and Wyoming, the first in Red Lodge, and later opening two others in Billings and Bozeman and an additional store in Cody, Wyo.
Walli was a member of the P.R.I.D.E. group (Positive Results In Daily Effort) which started P.R.I.D.E. Park and the beautification of the downtown streets of Red Lodge. She also contributed to the preservation of the Jeremiah Johnston cabin.
Some of her pastimes included camping and fishing in the local mountains, her watercolor and acrylic artwork, spending time with her family and traveling abroad. She also enjoyed cooking and baking.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Col. Lawrence E. Brown (Ret.); her sister, Ottilie Neubhler; and her brother, Gustav Tögel, both of Germany.
Survivors include her three children, Benjamin E. Brown (Jennifer) and Mark T. Brown (Denise), all of Red Lodge, and Suzette Brown of Gilbert, Ariz. She was blessed with four grandchildren, Daniel D. Brown of Billings, Hannah R. Brown, Kyle L. Brown and Jacob C. Brown, all of Red Lodge; her sisters Gertrude Klupp, Hildegard Roos, Annie Walitzer, Angela Blisch and Else Blisch, along with many nieces and nephews, all of Germany.
She will be greatly missed by all who knew her.
Memorial services will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 8, at the Red Lodge Community Church. Cremation has taken place and interment will be at a later date in the Red Lodge Cemetery. Smith-Olcott Funeral Chapel assisted with the arrangements.