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On April 20, 1963, a beautiful flower was born to Edna Maud Ricketts and Andrew Lee Brown, in Montego Bay Jamaica, whom they named Valarie Rose Brown. Having fragranced her world for 58 years. Valarie, Sister Val, Teacher Val transitioned from this life into the presence of God her heavenly Father on June 17, 2021, at Richmond University Medical Center. At the time of her transition, Valarie was surrounded by her husband, son Joshneil, and daughter Jalethea, who was there in spirit. Also there were her God-sent angels Lyndis Mills-Jude and Cicely Edwards, during her final moments
As a radiant, highly fragrant and versatile rose, Valarie grew and developed into one of the most admirable roses. Indeed, from an early age she was a “knock out” rose, blooming wherever she was planted. We reminisce about hearing from Valarie how she secretly gave away her mother’s groceries and cooked meals for needy children in her community. Thanks to Valarie’s mother, Ms. Edna and father Andrew, who inculcated a spirit of kindness and sense of community in her by practicing a life of kindness and respect for people from all walks of life. Essentially, Valarie also learned at an early age that “honesty was the best policy,” and that “good manners could take one around the world.” She was a model and testament of honesty, good manners and respect, which have literally taken her around her world.
As an adolescent, at a critical time in her life, a number of nurturing individuals, families and communities deeply influenced her ever evolving, glowing pursuits. One of those was the Fagan family with whom Valarie established a nurturing and supportive bond that remained throughout her teenage years. She particularly spoke of Mother Fagan, her spiritual mother, who took her under her wings and guided her through very vulnerable moments of her spiritual journey at that juncture in her life. It was about this time that Valarie had a spiritual awakening that set her on a new path to discern God’s plan and purpose for her life. Valarie became a member of a Community Church that provided further spiritual nurturing, and opportunities to serve God and community. It was at this church Valarie’s passion for God and community exploded into flames of fire, and where she honed her communication skills, and her ethical, moral and spiritual values. From this point forward there was no stopping for Sister Val in being a kingdom builder. Valarie’s peers and friends frequently referred to her as a missionary. One could hear whispers among her peers, “missionary is coming.”
After engaging in brief but gainful employment and an exploration in the field of nursing, Valarie responded to what she strongly believed was the most important call upon her life-a call to serve God and His church. About this time also, Valarie heard and answered another call, the call to become the bride of her life’s partner (Wellesley) to whom she was joined in marriage, and with whom she faithfully co-labored in ministry for thirty-three years. Valarie entered the Caribbean Nazarene Theological College (now Caribbean College) from which she graduated with a certificate in Christian Education. She later graduated from Covington Theological Seminary with a Bachelor's Degree in Christian Education, focusing on Early Childhood. While serving nine different churches over thirty-three years, Valarie never sought, or took any remuneration for her work in the church. She was content in supporting her husband and others in serving the church. Her work alongside her husband in ministry can be truly considered a “labor of love.”
While supporting her husband at the Moriah and Evangel pastorates in Trinidad and Tobago, Valarie acquired further qualification and certification in Early Childhood education and training. Resulting from her training and qualification, Valarie felt the need to work with the Evangel Moravian Church to establish an Early Childhood Education Center based on the Montessori model. She tirelessly led and guided local leaders in starting the Early Childhood Center, which is still functioning and making a positive impact today. With the transition of her husband from Antigua to seminary in the United States, they served at United Moravian Church in Manhattan, New York.
After giving birth to her children Valarie invested quality time in their nurturing, education, and spiritual development during their formative years. She provided them with the basic skills and training for their educational path. After a number of years, Valarie re-entered the classroom. Over an extended period, she worked in a number of Early Childhood Centers before joining the NYC DOE in 2014 as an Assistant Teacher, where she worked until she could continue no more. At the time of her passing she was in the process of upgrading her teaching certification.
Valarie's union with her husband produced two wonderful children who love the Lord and people, and many spiritual children whom Valarie truly adored. In her interpersonal relationships with both her biological and spiritual children one could not tell the difference in status because Valarie treated everyone with the same love, respect, care, and attention. She was firm, straightforward, and a no-nonsense mother and leader. She carved out her own way of communicating and connecting with children, especially to Joshneil and Jalethea in their early years. In getting their attention or calling them, whether they were in a crowded room or not, she had a unique way of clapping her hands three times, and you would see them running like crazy to her. To this day Joshneil and Jalethea are able to recall Mom’s famous way of calling them - they have some colorful stories to tell.
Without a shadow of a doubt, Valarie’s greatest achievements and success came as a servant of God, a mother, a wife and friend for thirty-three years. In every pastorate, Valarie’s doors were always opened to everyone. While waiting for her flight at an airport on her way home, a lady with her young child approached Valarie, stopped, then looked her in the eyes and proceeded to speak, “you look like someone with whom I can talk.” She went on to relate her story of spousal abuse. Without a moment’s hesitation, Valarie invited both the mother and child to stay with our family until she was okay enough to go to her family home away from her abusive husband. Joshneil, Jalethea and dad fondly remember mom; they look back over the years and laugh at some of the things they did to help those they perceived as needing help. She taught her Sunday School Children social skills and life skills in the form of cooking and other developmental skills, along with communication skills, public speaking, sewing, and arts and craft. Additionally, she represented parents at parent teacher conferences, counseled parents and students. For us, Valarie was the world’s greatest wife and mother.
Valarie was preceded by her father Andrew L Brown, mother Edna M Ricketts, and a brother, Thelwell. She is survived by her husband Wellesley Ferguson, son, Joshneil and daughter, Jalethea; sisters Sonia Thelwell and Donna Malcolm; brothers Carlton Thelwell and Donald Malcolm. She also left to mourn her passing many nieces, nephews, other families, and many precious and close friends.
While we sadly and broken-heartedly watched her departing from this life, our hearts are thankful and hopeful. We cherish life-long memories of our special rose. We reluctantly say goodbye, purposing in our hearts to see her again when we meet in our new home.
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