Mary Ellen Browning

Published 10:10 pm Friday, March 27, 2020

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“A Life Well Lived”

Mary Ellen Browning, 74, died Monday, March 23, 2020, in her home. She is survived by her husband of 55 years, Charles Browning, and her only child, Carla Browning; her two siblings, Jean Perry and David Rountree; as well as her four nieces and nephews.

Born on Dec. 31, 1945, to Gilmore and Thelma Rountree, Mary grew up on her family farm located on Desert Road. Upon graduating from Whaleyville High School, she entered the banking industry and retired as the vice president of Essex Savings Bank. Some knew her as a real estate agent, as Mary Ellen found great satisfaction in helping families find their homes, especially first-time buyers. She finished her real estate career with Chorey & Associates Realty, where she was treated with such kindness and respect in her final years.

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When Mary Ellen was not fulfilling her career aspirations, she could be found at Southside Baptist Church in Suffolk, where she was actively engaged in expressing her faith through quiet, steady acts of service and generosity.

Mary made human connection seem effortless. Her connections spread far and wide and wherever she went, her kind acts left behind a lingering scent of God’s unconditional love and generosity.

If there was one message Mary’s life rang loud and true, it was that no matter what she did for you, you could not repay her, as her love was unconditional, much like the love and kindness of her creator. If it’s true that humans are created in the image of God, Mary Ellen was a reflection of that image to be mirrored by all.

In a passage from John’s Gospel, Jesus tells His disciples not to be troubled; for He leaves to prepare places for them in the splendor of Heaven. What kindness and hospitality Jesus practices! What fellowship He labors to establish! There was a glimmering reminder of this in the actions of Mary Ellen.

And so, Mary Ellen finds herself once more in a world of generosity and kindness, except this time it is a world eternal.

Now, she is not a bestower of gifts, but a recipient of God’s bounty; not a giver of gifts, but one called to receive God’s precious gift of eternal life; not a generous provider, but a grateful guest who enjoys God’s provisions.

Our compassionate creator turns the tables on Mary, commanding her to get settled in her mansion on the other side of the pearly gates of Heaven.

This same compassionate God turned the tables on us as well. For in a life well lived, we thought we saw Mary Ellen at work, and we were right, but it was God’s love active as well, manifest through the actions of her generous life.

A celebration of Mary Ellen’s life will be held at Southside Baptist Church once the COVID-19 virus has lifted, so stay tuned for an invite in the future.

In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to the Southside Baptist Church Building Renovation Fund, which will be used for children’s ministries as well as fellowship events.

Send donations to the following: Southside Baptist Church, 917 Carolina Road, Suffolk, VA 23434. Makes checks payable to: Southside Baptist Church (Building Renovation Fund in memory of Mary Browning) or go online to and give (Building Renovation Fund in memory of Mary Browning).