Bernice Brown

Bernice Brown of Riverhead died Feb. 17 at the age of 80.

She was born Jan. 1, 1931, to Elizabeth and Jerome Miller in Jacksonville, Fla., where she grew up and attended school. She moved to Long Island in the early 1950s and married John Thomas Brown.

Family members said she was their keystone, a homemaker and loving provider, and took care of many neighborhood children, who called her “Ms. Bernice,” and for whom she had welcome arms and endless patience.

Family said Ms. Brown loved to cook, and her homemade biscuits were legendary. She also enjoyed watching soap operas, and would smile and dance, along with her family, to the music of “Soul Train.” They said her enjoyment of life was contagious, and her generosity and humility were greatly appreciated. She was full of memories and stories, and enjoyed sharing them with her many rapt listeners.

According to a family statement, she took great pride in her multi-generational family, and felt privileged to see the election of President Barack Obama, never believing she would live to see a black president.

Ms. Brown is survived by her husband, of Greenville, N.C.; her children, Amanda Armstrong and Patricia, both of Jacksonville, Fla.; Roosevelt Miller of Tampa, Fla.; Bernice, of Coram; James McMillen and JoAlice Hunt, both of Mastic; Debbie, of Medford; Bertha Halsey of Shirley; Leonard Halsey of Savannah, Ga.; and Jackie Hunt of Riverhead. She was predeceased by her daughter Betty Ann. Also surviving are 23 grandchildren, 19 great-grandchildren, and three great-great-grandchildren.

Visiting hours were Feb. 21 at Galilee Church of God and Christ in Riverhead, where a service was conducted Feb. 22 by Pastor Roy L. Pennon Sr. Interment was at Riverhead Cemetery. Arrangements were in the care of Seay Memorial Chapel in Riverhead.