Gena R. Brown, a Lexington woman known for her devotion to her children and for enjoying rides on a motorcycle, died Saturday Sept. 13 after saving her two daughters from a dryer fire that ignited their home.
Brown, 48, yelled for her daughters to get out, as the fire tore through the house on Paul Revere Road in the early hours of the morning. Jordan and Kendal Brown, ages 10 and 12, climbed out a second floor window and warned neighbors to call 911. Brown was unable to escape before firefighters arrived at 5 a.m. The fire is believed to be the result of lint buildup in a clothes dryer.
A mother of three, Brown was active and involved, taking her children to hockey, cheerleading and dance. She was also known to surprise her children, making spontaneous travel plans to go Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket for the weekend.
“Her children were her life,” said longtime friend Dawn MacKerron of Belmont.
Brown’s close-knit group of friends, whom she called the “Friday Night Girls,” describe her as an outgoing, vivacious, and energetic personality. She rode a Harley Davidson motorcycle and played softball with the Moms on the Mound in Lexington. Brown loved to cook and throw dinner parties, said friend MacKerron. Her favorite dish was an Armenian dessert called “kadayif.”
An avid golfer and gardener, Brown was a “friend who would give any part of herself to those she loved,” said Jeanne E. Borelli. “In this tragic case, she gave herself to her children like the great mother she always was.”
Brown had worked as a sonographer, or ultrasound technician, at Newton-Wellesley Hospital since January, where co-workers described her as a team player who cared deeply for her patients.
Brown was born on Oct. 19, 1959, in Dayton, Ohio to Gerald Newkirk and the late Peggy Newkirk. She grew up Schererville, Indiana where she attended Lake Central High School. She graduated from Indiana University in 1981 with a degree in marketing.
After college, Brown moved to California where she worked as a sales person for Pitney-Bowes and later as a loan originator. She moved to Massachusetts in the late 1980s and married Jim Brown of Belmont, in the early 90s. After their divorce, she went back to school at Middlesex Community College and in 2005 she earned her license as a diagnostic medical sonographer.
She moved to Lexington with her two girls in 2001. Her 15-year-old son Jake lives with his father Jim, in Belmont.
Brown is survived by her three children, Jake, Kendal, and Jordan, her father, Gerald Newkirk, her stepsister, Dede Lush, ex-husband Jim Brown, nieces and nephews, and many loving friends.
A memorial service in Gena’s honor will be held Friday, Sept. 19, at 11 a.m. at Grace Chapel, 59 Worthen Rd., Lexington, with arrangements by Bedrosian Funeral Home.
Donations in Brown’s memory may be made to the Gena R. Brown Children’s Education Fund, c/o Belmont Savings Bank, 2 Leonard St., Belmont, MA 02478. Proceeds will go toward financing the education of her three children.
-- Erin Cahill