This spring, Noble Research Institute lost the matriarch of the Noble family. Ann Noble Brown passed away on April 7, 2021. Mrs. Brown was the only daughter and last surviving child of Noble’s founder, Lloyd Noble. She played an instrumental role in shepherding the organization from 1951 to 2005. She participated in every landmark decision for more than half a century.
Mrs. Brown was thoughtful, purposeful and kind. She was both a lady of grace and an outdoor enthusiast, willing to trek through the muck on a fishing trip with her husband, David.
Her gentle nature made her an easy friend and an approachable leader. At the same time, she was not passive. When she spoke, she did so with authority. She possessed a clarity of vision for Noble that carried forth her father’s legacy.
Noble Research Institute was blessed to have had such a devoted director, who remained committed to Mr. Noble’s intentions and purposes for this great organization.
The following is Mrs. Brown’s in memoriam. These words are a snapshot of a life that spanned almost a century. They are far from the last words written about Mrs. Brown. Those who loved her and those who knew her will long remember the lasting impression she had on their lives.
In Memory of Ann Noble Brown
Ann Elizabeth Noble was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, at St. Anthony Hospital. The youngest of three children born to Samuel Lloyd Noble and Vivian Bilby Noble, she grew up in Ardmore, Oklahoma. In her early years she also spent summers in California, where the family traveled to escape the Depression-era dust, which aggravated her older brother’s asthma.
Her mother died of pneumonia in the pre-antibiotic era, when Ann was only 6. After the tragic loss of her mother, Ann continued to be blessed with the strong and loving maternal presence of her grandmother Hattie Noble, housekeeper Nora Shaffer, and her aunt Mary Tolbert. She and her brothers attended school and lived in La Jolla, California, in a small house overlooking the cove, for the next two years. On returning to Ardmore, they moved into the house on D Street that had been purchased shortly before their mother’s death. Ann learned early to cook, sew, be a gracious hostess, and of necessity help run a household.
She graduated from Ardmore High School in 1948. She attended Mills College in Oakland for two years, always retaining a fondness for the Bay Area and Tony Bennett’s “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.” After her father died suddenly, late in her sophomore year, she returned home and attended The University of Oklahoma as a junior. She fell in love with a young Navy lieutenant, Dr. David Brown, older brother of a high school classmate. When David returned from Korea for duty in San Diego, they were married in Ardmore on Nov. 18, 1951. After a honeymoon in Santa Fe, the couple first lived in Corpus Christi, Texas, where David completed his tour at the Naval Hospital. In 1952, they moved to Oklahoma City, which would be home for the rest of their lives.
Ann and David raised three children. The consummate housewife, Ann learned to love traveling with her family in a pickup camper across the American West and into Canada. Later would come travels with friends in more spacious motor homes and cabin life in Lake City, Colorado, for nearly 40 summers. Ladylike Ann also came to delight in donning rain gear, or sunglasses and a hat, to share in David’s love of fishing. She enjoyed many trips with dear friends to Lake Ouachita, Lake Fork and Toledo Bend.
She was a longtime trustee of The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, established by her father, Lloyd Noble. She was also a trustee on the boards of Oklahoma City University, Heritage Hall, Harn Homestead and the Science Museum Oklahoma (originally named the Omniplex). She was a founding member of the Annie Oakley and Prix de West societies at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum and a 50-year member of Nichols Hills United Methodist Church. She resolutely supported and shared in her husband’s work with the Heritage Foundation, Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation and Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs. Ann bequeaths to her family and all who knew her a legacy of kindness, companionable travel, Christian devotion, generosity and quiet charity, memorable home-cooked meals, and love of family and friends.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Lloyd and Vivian; by her brothers, Sam and Ed; by her sister-in-law, Mary Jane Noble; and by her cousins, Margaret Baldridge and Bilby Wallace.
She is survived by her devoted husband of 69 years, David Brown; her three children (and their spouses): Randy Brown (Susan Ross), Susan Brown (Bill McCoy) and Marianne Rooney (Pat); her nine grandchildren: Patrick Rooney (Patterson), Turner Rooney (Gillian), Matthew Rooney (Katie), Clark Ruppert, Ellen Ruppert, Willy Ruppert, Jake Brown (Anna), Katie Brown and David Brown; her nine great-grandchildren: Emily, Caroline and Brooks Brown; Patrick, Lucy and Maggie Rooney; Turner and Luke Rooney; and Teddy Rooney; her cousins Carolyn Smith, Jim Tolbert (Beth) and Sara Orwig; and sisters-in-law Maria Noble and Anne Falin.
Memorials may be made to Noble Research Institute, Nichols Hills United Methodist Church or the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.