|Birth: ||Aug. 8, 2000|
|Death: ||Nov. 6, 2007|
Maria Joy Brown, 7, of Madison passed away on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2007, at her home as a result of a house fire. Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, Nov. 9, at the Madison C-3 School gym with the Rev. David Holmes and Travis Redburn officiating. Visitation will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday at the school. Burial will be in Bethel Cemetery at Holliday. Maria was born on Aug. 8, 2000, in Columbia, the daughter of Glenna Sharp of Madison and Mike Brown of Columbia. Maria attended first grade at Madison C-3 School. She was a member of Brownie Troop No. 375. She attended the MHS Cheerleaders Clinic and was a member of Graves Chapel Church. Maria loved shopping, music and spending time with her family. Maria is survived by her parents; grandparents Mike and Connie Ayer of Madison, Milton Sharp of Holliday, and Robert and Jean Garner of Anabell; great-grandparents Kenneth and Dorothy Tompkins of Clarence; three uncles, Eddie and wife Lindsey Ayer of Madison, Jack and wife Renee Brown of Moberly, and Richie and wife Mary Jane Sharp of Hallsville. Memorials can be made to the Brown Family Memorial Fund at the Alliant Bank in Madison. Funeral arrangements are under the direction of Agnew Funeral Home.
MADISON — "Their rooms were right here," Jean Gardner said, pointing to what was the west corner of the old farmhouse that lay in charred ruins after a predawn fire took the lives of her two granddaughters. "They were really special," she said of the girls, tears running down her face. Sara Brown, 15, and Maria Brown, 7, were found dead yesterday morning in the ashes of their home, about 13 miles south of Madison in rural Monroe County. Firefighters from three rural fire departments were dispatched to the blaze at about 5 a.m. By yesterday afternoon, the two-story frame structure was destroyed, with only part of a stairway, a wood-burning stove and remnants of the foundation partially intact amid debris that included a melted mattress. "It's a tragedy," said Monroe County Coroner James Reinhard, who identified the victims as the daughters of Glenna Sharp of rural Monroe County and Michael Brown of Columbia. Reinhard said the bodies of Sara and Maria were taken to the medical examiner's office in Columbia for autopsy. Investigator Bill Zieres of the Office of the State Fire Marshal said today the fire was still under investigation. Because of the extent of the damage, "it's going to be hard to pinpoint the cause of the fire," Zieres said. "We don't know if we'll ever physically be able to determine a cause," he said. Reinhard said that, before the fire broke out, Sharp and her boyfriend, who was not identified, left the house to go to a store. "When they returned to the house, they found the house was engulfed in flames," he said. Gardner said officials told her that Sharp and her boyfriend were having electrical problems in the house and left to buy supplies. When they returned, Gardner said, the boyfriend attempted to go into the house to get the girls, but the blaze was too intense, and he suffered burns on his hands. Gardner described her son Michael Brown as a loving and involved father. She said he had a good relationship with Sharp after their divorce. But, she added, "It's gonna take him awhile to be around her, since she left them home alone." News of Sara's and Maria's deaths shocked members of the rural community.
"There's been a lot of crying on each others' shoulder all day," said Scott Salmons, principal of Madison C-3 School, where Sara was a sophomore and Maria was in first grade.
"Both of them were great kids," Salmons said. On Monday night, Sara was inducted into the National Honor Society.
Alex Panter, 12, went to school and church with Sara and Maria. He said spirits were very low yesterday at the school, where administrators brought in counselors to console teachers and students. "A lot of kids were crying when I got to class," Panter said. "It hit everybody really hard." In a tightknit community like Madison, which has a population of fewer than 600, Salmons said "everybody knows everybody." When a tragedy like the fire occurs, "it rips your heart out." Yesterday evening, Gardner and Reachel Brown, a cousin to Sara and Maria, held each other as they stood beside the still-smoking remains of the farmhouse. It was a sight that Brown, a Columbia resident, called a reminder of how "things can happen so fast." While the official cause of death remains undetermined, Gardner said authorities found the bodies of the girls in different parts of the house. She said that suggests that they were killed by smoke inhalation. "If there was a fire, Sara would have been with Maria. There is no doubt in my mind," she said, because, "Sara was the best big sister." Gardner said her son, who works in the pathology department at University Hospital, is devastated by the loss of his two children. "He was an excellent dad, and they meant the world to him," she said, adding that her son told her, " ‘I'm mad at God right now.' " "Our deepest sympathy goes out to Mike," said Misty Taylor, an administrative assistant at University Hospital's pathology laboratory.
"Mike is a cherished employee and the entire hospital is thinking about him," Taylor said.
Created by: Lillie Riney
Record added: Dec 28, 2007
Find A Grave Memorial# 23601720