Jolly Ralph Brown, 88, formerly of River Forest and Brookfield, died peacefully on July 24, 2020, with his wife and family by his side. 

Born on Jan. 7, 1932 in Gadsden, Alabama to the late Edwin and Julia (nee Johnson) Brown, he served in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War as a radar operator on the U.S.S. Manchester. A 1959 graduate of Auburn University, during football season, he enjoyed nothing more than watching his beloved team beat ‘Bama.

In 1984, he and his wife opened Madly Pop’n, a gourmet popcorn gift shop in Oak Park. For the next 25 years, the business became a staple in the Oak Park community. He embraced his wife’s Italian heritage, each year making gallons of homemade wine that were enjoyed around many crowded dinner tables. He became an honorary citizen to Calvene, the small Italian town from which his in-laws emigrated. 

Jolly’s favorite pastimes were traveling, internationally and domestically, spending time with family and friends and sitting on the sidelines watching his grandchildren’s sports activities. He will be missed for his gregarious laugh and love of life. 

Jolly Brown was the husband of Madeline (nee Brazzale) Brown for 57 years; the father of Rebecca (Ken) Schlorf, Rachel (Mike) Peterson, and Roberta (Philip) Ferrante; grandfather of Will, Dylan, Gabriella, Ryan, Ben, Nick and Dominic; brother of the late Vivian (Joe) Keracher and the late Edwin (Juanita) Brown; and the brother-in-law, uncle, cousin and friend of many. 

Due to restrictions of COVID-19, there will be a private, invitation-only Mass at Our Lady of Pompeii in Chicago. A celebration of Jolly’s life will happen at a later date. In the meantime, please share your favorite memories, thoughts, stories, tributes and photos with the family under the tribute wall tab at the top of his page at

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital at

Arrangements were handled by Drechsler, Brown & Williams Funeral Home.