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Life Story / Obituary
With a mighty laugh and a full heart, Benjamin (Ben) David Brown lived life to the fullest. Creative, kind, and persevering, Ben loved the simple things in life, like spending time outdoors with family and celebrating holidays. He had a kind spirit and felt called to serve others, often drawing from his struggles to connect deeply and offer encouragement. His unfailing kindness inspired all who were blessed to know him. A cherished son, brother, uncle, and friend, Ben will long be remembered by those he so dearly loved.
It seems fitting that such a kind soul came into this world as a decade of political disillusionment drew to an end and a social revolution rooted in rock and roll was born. As the world met the Rubik’s Cube and Post It Notes for the first time and watched the “Miracle on Ice” during the Winter Olympics, 1980 proved a time of much hope for the future. Nowhere was there more hope than in the home of Rich and Dawn Brown as they welcomed their son Ben on January 21 in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
The youngest of five children, Ben was a good baby. As he grew up, his kind spirit and desire to help others became more and more evident. He attended Tri-unity Christian Elementary School and Grandville High School, earning his GED after graduation. Very artistic, Ben played guitar and many other instruments, often writing original songs. It was common for Ben to modify his clothing with markers, needles, metal, or other things, transforming it into unique pieces that were special to him.
Ben enjoyed many things, including playing outside and family cookouts. He spent hours riding bikes, fishing in the family’s pond, and riding paddle boats. Time at the beach and celebrating the Fourth of July with friends, marveling at the fireworks also proved wonderful memories. Ben’s parents modeled an unwavering faith life by reading the Bible together and attending Resurrection Life and First Assembly. Faith proved a firm foundation for Ben, who never waivered in his beliefs and commitments, regardless of life’s hardships.
Diagnosed with schizophrenia early in his life, Ben faced the struggles of hearing voices in his head, suicidal ideation, and trying to find where he belonged in society for many years. Though it took time for his family to understand the illness, they gathered around and supported him at every turn. Because of the illness, Ben commonly spontaneously hitchhiked across the United States only to make contact with his family for assistance getting back home. In and out of many different relationships and homes, Ben never felt ashamed of his illness and deeply understood the importance of seeking support; he often spoke of his desire to become a peer support person for others who faced similar challenges.
Despite the hardships Ben faced on a daily basis, he always centered himself in his heart, choosing to find joy and comfort where he could. He continued to enjoy art and created many marker and pen drawings he gave to friends and family. He always gave his family birthday cards and would even make sure they were early to avoid missing anyone. He treasured sharing vacations with his siblings and their families and loved being an uncle to Eian, Calen, Dakota, Cory, and Elliott. He enjoyed Vietnamese food and punk rock music and had a very powerful and heartwarming laugh that was a delight for others to hear.
Though our days with him were far too few, each moment we shared with Ben is a gift we will long treasure. Ben showed us how to persevere and live a wholehearted life devoted to faith, family, compassion, and kindness. This is the legacy we will proudly carry forward. As we celebrate his life, may we find comfort in sharing all that he taught us and knowing he has found peace.
Benjamin (Ben) David Brown completed his life journey on this earth and started his eternal journey in the presence of our Lord on July 16, 2023. Left to cherish all he gave them are his siblings, Melissa Brown-Culbertson, Teresa (Richard) Ducham, Fraser Brown, and David Brown; as well as many aunts, uncles, and cousins. In alignment with Benjamin’s desires, cremation has taken place. Ben’s family will meet with friends and family on Friday, August 4, 2023, from 11 to 1 PM with a memorial service at 1:00 PM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, Van Strien Creston Chapel, 1833 Plainfield Ave. N.E. Interment will be in Rosedale Memorial Park. Ben’s family would request donations be made to The National Suicide Foundation. Please visit www.heritagelifestory.com to read Benjamin’s life story, submit a favorite memory or photo, or sign the guestbook online.