Carolyn Allen (Ripley) Brown of Oak Bluffs died peacefully in her sleep after a brief illness on March 16, 2017, at Massachusetts General Hospital, with family by her side. She was married to Richard C. Brown of Oak Bluffs for 49 years.
Carolyn always said she was the first baby born at the “new” Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, located across the street from the current hospital. Her mother, Laura G. Ripley, was one of the first nurses hired for the new hospital. Carolyn was the older of two daughters. Her sister, Hope Mayhew Ripley, predeceased her on Dec. 30, 1938.
Carolyn attended the Oak Bluffs schools that were located within a 5-minute walk, near Oak Grove Cemetery. Her high school graduation ceremony was held at Union Chapel in 1947; she was one of 14 students.
After graduation she studied x-ray technology at Massachusetts Memorial Hospital in Boston. Although in a one-year program, she was put on the payroll after nine months. After a couple of years, she returned to the Island, got married and had four children, and was divorced in 1960. During this time she worked as a x-ray technician at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital.
Carolyn married Richard C. Brown in June 1964. She and her children moved to Staten Island for three years. Carolyn and Richard decided to return to the Island and open the original Edgartown Dairy Queen, which they ran for more than 20 years. Carolyn, after selling the Dairy Queen, decided at age 48 to enroll at Cape Cod Community College in the registered nursing program, graduating at age 50 and fulfilling a lifelong dream. As a nurse, she worked for a number of years at both the Venice Florida Hospital and the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital.
Carolyn, in her later years, had many fond memories of working at Darlings Popcorn Store on Circuit Avenue, near the current Linda Jean’s. Other fond youthful memories include bike riding around town, ice skating in the winter on Sunset Lake, listening to summer band concerts at Ocean Park, roller skating on the boardwalk across from Ocean Park, swimming at the town pier, rowing her boat around Oak Bluffs Harbor, climbing trees (especially apple), spending time with her friends, and the special connection she felt for her grandmother, Adalyn Mayhew Ripley.
After her retirement from nursing, she happily volunteered at the hospital as a hospice registered nurse. She also was a member of the Edgartown Methodist Church women’s group and the church choir, was a volunteer at the Senior Day Program in Edgartown, a dedicated Edgartown Soup Supper volunteer, and an active member of the Friends of the Oak Bluffs Library.
In her later years she still fondly remembered her childhood neighborhood as being a “close-knit and nourishing” group of family and friends.
Carolyn leaves her sons, Walter E. LaBell, Noel A. LaBell, John G. LaBell, and her daughter Christine H. Clifford. She also leaves seven grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
A memorial service was held on March 25. The service was led by family friend Phil Dietterich.