A native of Paducah, Kentucky, where she was born in 1909, Marilyn Brown lived in Champaign since 1970. She said in an interview in the early 1980s that: "I was separated from my family when I was very young. My brothers and sisters (four of them) were sent to an orphanage and I was adopted in 1921 at the age of twelve. In 1958 inyhusband took me back to Paducah to see if I could find any of my folks. I went to my oId school teacher and she said she had just had a letter from my brother, Willis. He was living in Illinois. I contacted him and one by one found the rest of my family - even my mother. Our reunion was so happy. In the 1960s my sister, Maggie, and I became real close and we are still together -living in the same apartment building. Maggie, who is older, has helped me a great deal since my stroke. She's always telling me, 'You can do it.' I did domestic work and helped raise other people's children. I did not have any of my own. I loved most of the children I took care of, and I'm proud of all the community work I've done since retiring. I like to sing and loved to dance. Also did volunteer work with the Democratic Party, church work, and senior citizens. I've had a stroke now and cannot talk as well. I used to love to talk to people, now I'm afraid they won't understand me, though it's good to get out and try to talk with other people." She was most concerned "about my relationship with God, I want to be close to Him, but sometimes I'm not as prayerful as I want to be.
I'm handicapped now. I never was before! I know I have to keep trying to improve. Maybe I will."