When reflecting on the life of Gina Brown, words such as feisty, loud and goofy come to mind; however, the word that paints the most vivid picture of her is genuine. She passionately gave of her time and resources to the family she adored. Never expected to live past the age of five, she lived her life to the fullest. A loving mother, a positive light in the lives of many, and a strong role model to many, Gina will be deeply missed and lovingly remembered.
Gina’s story began in 1966, a time that was just as vibrant as she was! Music continued to make a significant impact with the Beatles on the top of the charts and the nation soon to be on the edge of the Disco era. Amidst this exciting time, Howard W. and Rebecca J. were pleased to announce the birth of their newborn baby girl, Gina, born August 25th in Chicago, Illinois.
As a child, Gina spent many summer weekends at the Adeline Jay Geo-Karis Beach State Park where her parents called the Saturday night square dances. She and her older three siblings were very active. If they weren’t swimming, canoeing, playing on the wood fort in the playground, taking night hikes around the park, or building forts in the pine grove on Trail 1, they were daring each other to ride their bikes downhill! Although her siblings would say that watching over her was a part of their daily chores, they did as their mother told them to as they knew that Gina could be a handful at times!
Being the youngest of five children, she learned a lot from her older siblings. Her brother, Mike, would ride her perched on the front seat of his bike until Dan eventually taught her how to ride a bike by going up and down the halls of the hospital during one of her many stays. Gina especially liked to torture Dan and the siblings remember no matter whose fault it was whenever they were arguing, being the baby of the family, Gina was fiercely protected! As they matured, it was Dan who became her ultimate protector. They were very close and got into their fair share of trouble together. Once they even cut the hair of their sister, Mary Rose's Barbie doll! By high school, Gina and Dan shared many of the same peers. With an incredible amount of bravery, she once drove his Dodge Dart at only fourteen years old to pick him up from a party because she didn’t want he and his friends driving after drinking! The two of them enjoyed drag racing in that old Dart and when he left for the Air Force, he gave it to her because he knew it would get the best of care!
As a high school student, Gina hung with students from each crowd. In addition to playing softball, she was active in Band, Choir, and Theater. With her beautiful singing voice and her quick wit, she was cast as the Wicked Queen in “Once Upon a Mattress” and was a real hit! Gina always gave anything she put her mind to 110%. When she was in the flag corps one year, she and her Band Director’s wife designed an idea for a new flag and her mother generously made them all! That same year, they qualified for regionals, a highlight of her high school days! After graduating with the class of 1984 from Bogan High, she and her high school boyfriend, Mark Beck, joined in marriage. Trinity United Methodist Church in Chicago was the setting for their September 16, 1985, ceremony and they started their family soon after. Together they raised two wonderful daughters; Sarah Jane and Jessica Lynn.
Gina found her passion in her family. She cherished her years as a stay at home mom. There wasn’t anything she wouldn’t do for her kids including volunteering for their Girl Scouts, church groups, or school events. As they grew, she was always there with a listening ear. Her door was always open just like her heart. The girls could come to her and seek advice and she often gave it without judgment. Her motherly ways were extended beyond just Sarah and Jessica over the years. Any friend of theirs was always welcome and loved just the same. Gina was never one to take her role as a mother for granted and was blessed to live to see both of her daughters graduate and marry the men in their lives.
A simple woman, Gina had simple pleasures. She loved to sit on the front porch and relax for hours. A passionate gardener, she shared its rich abundance over the years with many friends and neighbors. She was also a talented seamstress, a fabulous baker, and an avid reader. Never one to be happy with silence, Gina often sang in the car, while she was cooking, or doing just about anything! She was also known to play either the TV or the radio throughout the day. She especially enjoyed the classic rock of Bob Seger, Pat Benatar, Billy Joel, and Queen. A beach lover, Gina treasured trips to Florida where she would comb the shoreline for shells. When she was wasn’t out mushroom hunting or fishing, she enjoyed going out for a buffet lunch with her parents. Nothing brought Jen greater joy than the time she spent with her family.
As much as she loved being a mom, she was richly blessed when Fredrick Michael, her grandson, joined the family. She must’ve taken literally hundreds of pictures of him in the first year of his life! Gina couldn’t wait to share all of her favorite traditions with him including watching, “White Christmas” and “A Christmas Story” during the holidays, as well as enjoying peanut butter on a spoon dipped in chocolate chips, one of her favorite snacks! Described as compassionate and loving, Gina leaves behind a wonderful collection of memories for her family and friends to cherish for years to come.
Gina Beck, age 51, of Chicago, IL passed away at 12:22 am on Sunday, October 15th, 2017, at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital, Chicago. Gina worked for as a tax preparer for H&R Block for the last several years and enjoyed volunteering for New Leash on Life.
Survivors include her loving husband of 32 years, Mark Beck of Chicago; daughters Sarah (Jeff) Campbell of Chicago and Jessica (Oscar) Vargas of Kendallville; grandson Fredrick Campbell of Albion; parents Howard and Becky Cole of Chicago; siblings Michael (Deb) Cole of Lagrange, Mary Rose (Matthew) Worman of Albion, Virgil Brown of San Jose, and Daniel Cole of Syracuse; aunt Harriet Masterson of Kimmell; uncle Edward (Nancy) Pollock of Richmond.
Friends may call on Thursday, October 19, 2017, from 2-4 & 6-8 pm at Leak & Son's Funeral Homes, 7838 S. Cottage Grove Avenue, Chicago, IL. Funeral services for Gina will be held at 10:00 am on Sunday, October 22, 2017, at the funeral home. Burial will follow in Oak Wood Cemetery, Chicago. Memorial contributions in memory of Gina may be made to American Heart Association.