Long-time Long Beach couple die a day apart
Their friends and family agree — if two people ever were “made for each other,” it was Helen and Les Brown.
Both were born on the same day, Dec. 31, 1918. Helen and Les were high school sweethearts who celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary this year. It would be their last; Helen died on July 16, and Les died the next day, July 17.
They were 94.
Daniel, the couple’s youngest son, agreed.
“My mom often said she didn’t want to see my father die, and he didn’t want to live without her,” Daniel said.
The two boys, sitting in their parents’ Belmont Heights home, said their parents met at Huntington Park High School and eloped on Sept. 19, 1937. They were married against their own parents’ wishes. Helen was from a working-class family, while Les was from a more wealthy family, and both sides of their family thought the love would never last between them.
But it did.
Helen and Les moved to Long Beach in 1963. Helen was a housewife who had a knack for buying and selling area properties, and Les owned a photography studio, serving as a photographer for the Navy. His father, too, was a photographer.
Despite being born on the same day, the Browns were two very different people, according to their sons, who said their mom was very strict and their dad was more laid back. And, like all married couples, they had some issues to work through during the years.
They were Jehovah’s Witnesses, a faith that strengthened their marriage, the sons said. They reaffirmed their love for one another daily.
Besides spending time at Kingdom Hall for worship, the longtime Long Beach residents — who had seven grandchildren — were well known for taking in-state road trips together and were frequently found at Ma N’ Pa Grocery, a corner store on Roycroft Avenue and Colorado Street. They also were close friends with many of their neighbors.
“They loved California, and they loved Belmont Shore and Belmont Heights,” Les Jr. said. “They wouldn’t leave … And, Ma N’ Pa Grocery treated them like royalty. Mom was there every day. That was her pantry.”
One family friend, Bob Brobst, who belonged to the same congregation, had known Helen and Les for nearly a decade.
“Like the Bible says, ‘They were as one,’ ” Brobst said, adding that he will always remember how compatible his friends were as a couple.
Les, who had Parkinson’s disease, and Helen, who had developed stomach cancer, will have a joint memorial service. The public service will take place at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses, 5852 Belgrade Ave., Garden Grove. All are welcome.
Ashleigh Ruhl is an editor at the Grunion Gazettes.