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Nathalie Brown

Des Moines, IA and Estes Park, CO

Her last name was Brown, but her family sometimes called her Mrs. Purple. It was her favorite color. At one point she had a purple fur coat, a purple Cadillac and purple carpet in her bedroom. M. Nathalie Brown died Saturday, May 12, 2012 at Bickford Cottage in Urbandale, Iowa after a lengthy illness with Alzheimer’s.

Nathalie was born in Galena, Illinois January 9, 1922 to Martin Johannes Berg and Myrtle Elsie Rector Berg. She was graduated from Galena High School in 1939 and married Walter R. Brown of Dubuque, Iowa October 11, 1942 in Lancaster, Missouri. After receiving a Bachelor of Arts from Dubuque College November 7, 1942 she taught school in McGregor, Iowa prior to moving to Poughkeepsie, New York where her first son, W. Kendall, was born in 1943. There she kept house while Walter worked as a CPA for McGladrey, Hansen, Dunn and Co.

The Browns returned to Iowa where Walter enrolled in Law School at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. After his graduation in 1949, the family moved to Des Moines where Keith was born in 1952 and William was born in 1953. As Walter built a law practice, Nathalie kept home for the family in Des Moines.

In the 1960s, Nathalie and Walter purchased 28 acres of land in Estes Park where they subdivided the property that came to be known as Range View Estates, sold lots and built “the cabin” – their beloved vacation and retirement home which sat at 8, 000 feet above sea level. During this time Natalie and Walt took flying lessons and became licensed pilots. Nathalie, the first woman pilot in the state of Iowa to hold an instrument rating, enjoyed flying their planes back and forth between Iowa and Colorado.

Nathalie maintained many friendships in both Des Moines and Estes Park, and volunteered with breast cancer screening in the 1970s in Des Moines and with the Elizabeth Guild and the public library in Estes Park. She was an avid seamstress, a voracious reader and enjoyed crafting, hiking, camping and traveling throughout the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii, in addition to trips to Ireland, Egypt, Switzerland, France, Amsterdam, Italy, England, Norway, and Canada.

In the 1960s Nathalie and Walt became foreign-exchange-parents to Munir Addas from Cairo, Egypt and also foster parents to Vicki Randolph. She taught her grandkids to play Gin Rummy and was known for always having a fresh batch of Toll-House Cookies in a tin on the counter, her chocolate- topped Rice Krispies bars made with peanut butter and her black cherry Jell-O, affectionately known by her family as “the bomb.” One of her favorite past times was sitting out on her deck at “the cabin” and looking at the magnificent, unobstructed view of Long’s Peak and the Front Range.

For several years in the 1970s, Nathalie and Walt kept an apartment at the Park Fleur in Des Moines and then moved into a condo in West Des Moines before retiring to their home in Estes Park in the 1980s. Nathalie and Walter returned to Des Moines in 1999 as their health began to fail. Several years after Walt’s death in 2000, Nathalie moved into assisted-living in the Des Moines area.

Nathalie is survived by her three sons, W. Kendall (Diane) Brown of Des Moines, Keith (Ramon Diaz) Brown of Boulder, Colorado, and William (Patti) Brown of Des Moines; her 12 grandchildren, Jolene Brown of Anchorage, Alaska, Kevin (Amanda) Brown of Minneapolis, Minnesota, Chad (Rebecca) Wood of Roeland Park, Kansas, Bill Wood of New Port Beach, California, Julie Shay of Santa Monica, California, Chris (Emily) Shay of Des Moines, Maribeth (Erik) Romslo of Minneapolis, Mark Brown of Napa, California, David Brown of Chicago, Illinois, Christopher Brown of Cleveland, Ohio, Matt Brown of Chicago, Illinois, and Kaitlin Bode-Brown of Iowa City, and eight great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her husband Walter Brown, and three grandchildren, Bridgett Brown 1968, W. Aaron Brown 1995, and Gregory Bode-Brown in 2002.

A private memorial will be held in Estes Park in August. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions to be made to the Estes Park Library.

Arrangements by Iles Funeral Homes-Dunn’s Chapel, 2121 Grand Avenue Des Moines, Iowa. Online condolences may be left at


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