NEW CASTLE, Pennsylvania (MyValleyTributes) – Benita E. Brown (neé Mayo), affectionately known as “Babe,” age 66, cruised to Heaven’s gates on Monday, August 30, 2021.
She was born in New Castle, Pennsylvania on June 27, 1955 to the late Joseph Mayo and Madelyne Taylor Wilkins.
She will be deeply missed by her children, Alia (James) McNeil of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and Rick (Leah) Brown II of New Castle; her namesake and daughter of the heart, Benita McFarland of Baltimore, Maryland; grandchildren, Daya McNeil of Chesapeake, Virginia, Joffre McNeil of Harrisburg, Alexis McVay and Niko Brown, of New Castle; granddaughter of the heart, Ge’Auhni Cox-McLaurin of Baltimore, Maryland; sister, Joann Hairston of Pineville, North Carolina; brother, Wesley James and sister-in-law, Teresa, of Mitchellville, Maryland; former spouse, Richard Brown and a host of nieces, nephews, Godchildren, family and dear friends.
Since childhood, Benita was known as a creative soul. She loved to draw, color and design anything she imagined—from Halloween costumes to three-dimensional Muppet posters, from t-shirts decorated with custom designs to items used to decorate her home.
In addition to her hands-on crafting, Benita loved jazz music and singing. She did not often sing in front of others but those who have heard her would agree she had a beautiful voice. Benita was also fearless. As a child, she did not always want to play everything the girls played and preferred to climb trees, play ball and roughhouse with the boys. Into adulthood, she became interested in weightlifting, later competing in bodybuilding and powerlifting competitions. She also trained others in fitness.
Children had a special place in Benita’s heart; she had a unique connection with them. She was a proud parent, grandparent and Godparent and would often share the latest accomplishments of “her babies.” Also considered to be “everybody’s mom,” she was known as Miss Benita or Mrs. Brown. She was fun-loving but also stern. A child at heart, she could be comedic and play and laugh with you but also tell you about yourself if you got out of line.
Benita also worked as a caregiver for children and young adults with special needs in the PARC program. She later worked as a special education and autism support paraprofessional at Lynn-Kirk Elementary School, Campbell Elementary School and McKinley Elementary School.
Benita loved the human connection. Gifted with an enormous heart, she would do anything she could to help those who needed it. Whether that was being a listening ear, giving advice, providing meals, helping to raise children, or meeting needs in other ways, everyone knew they could count on her for support.
A classic car enthusiast, Benita was a member of the Twisted Pistons Car Club. She knew her vehicles well; so much so that she built some of her cars from the ground up and could tell you the year, make, and model of any car. She also attended many car shows and cruises, where she showed off her ’81 Buick Regal and ’63 Chevy Nova. A die-hard Chevy girl, her favorite car was the ’57 Chevy Bel Air.
In addition to restoring cars, Benita was also an accomplished cook known for her macaroni and cheese, quiche, taco pie, roast chicken, lasagna, fried cabbage, potato salad, baked beans and cornbread stuffing. If you had ever eaten her cooking—and many had—you knew there was never an option to leave hungry.
An animal lover, she had two dogs, Bota and Bones. She also had many snakes: boa constrictors, ball pythons, reticulated pythons and her biggest babies, her two Burmese pythons. Those two were approximately eight inches around and 18 feet long each. She proudly carried them around everywhere she went and often shared them with students in the schools.
Benita was an extraordinary woman who possessed incredible strength and talent in so many ways. She will be sadly missed by numerous close friends and loving family.
A celebration of Benita’s life will be held at Victory Christian Center, 2009 N. Mercer Street, New Castle, Pennsylvania on Thursday, September 9, 2021 from 12:30 – 2:30 p.m. For the safety of all attendees, masks are required.
A television tribute will air Sunday, September 5, at the following approximate times: 8:58 a.m. on WKBN and 7:58 p.m. on FOX.