Hessie Brown Bannon, 94, of Alexandria, VA, passed away peacefully on Sunday, November 5,2023, at the Reston Hospital Center in Reston, VA, following a brief illness. Hessie was a beloved wife and mother and was affectionately known as “Nanny” to her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
She is survived by her two children, Judith Bannon McNamee (Mark), of Oakton, VA; and Robert William Bannon, Jr., of Pinehurst, NC, her grandchildren, Ryan McNamee (Kelley); Michael McNamee; Lexi Brunner, Aidan Bannon; and Olivia Bannon, her two great-grandchildren, Emma McNamee; and Mia McNamee, and her two sisters, Verna Brown Worthington, (Roger), of Garner NC; and Janis Brown Clark of Gold River, CA. She was preceded in death by her husband, Robert William Bannon, her brother, Eddie Buster Brown, of Edenton, NC, and her sisters Audrey Brown Rogers, of Alexandria, VA, and Mildred Brown Carter, of Bountiful, UT.
Hessie was born in Leo, SC, on May 19, 1929, and spent her first sixteen years on the tobacco farm of her mother, Hester Poston Brown and her father, Eddie Washington Brown. She left her family home at the young age of sixteen to embark upon a long administrative career with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in Washington, DC – joining her two older sisters, Audrey and Mildred, who had previously left home and started their careers at the FBI. During her FBI tenure, Hessie had the unique experience to be counted as among the dozen or so “personal secretaries” to then FBI Director, J. Edgar Hoover.
Hessie was a loving and devoted wife over her 44 years of marriage to her husband Bob, following their meeting while both were employees of the FBI. Over the course of their marriage, Hessie and Bob raised their family and lived continually in Alexandria, VA; however, they had the opportunity to travel extensively both domestically and internationally with family and friends. Hessie often fondly recalled her memories from these trips, especially her visits to both Ireland and Italy due to the natural beauty of each location.
Hessie took a hiatus from the working world to raise and care for her two children while they were young. During that time, the Bannons’ home was a central meeting point for family holidays, as well as for many dinners and other gatherings with friends. Hessie and Bob created countless enduring memories during this period.
After her children were grown, Hessie returned to work as a civil servant with the Department of the Navy in Arlington, VA. Following her successful return to work, Hessie later retired and was able to enjoy almost 10 years of retirement with Bob before he passed away in 2001. During these retirement years, Hessie took up golfing (even with Bob at times) and converted her faith to Catholicism. She continued to enthusiastically practice both until her very late years.
Also following her retirement, Hessie was instrumental in providing regular and loving care to each of her grandchildren during their preschool years. Hessie always loved babies, and it was never more apparent than when she was able to spend time with her young grandchildren. She also grew to love her family pets, especially her Westie dog, Bonnie.
Hessie has provided a shining example of strength and perseverance in overcoming her humble childhood with grace and will be lovingly remembered for her selfless commitment to her family.
A funeral Mass will be held at St. Rita’s Catholic Church in Alexandria, VA, on November 16, 2023, at 1:30 pm, followed by an interment at Ivy Hill Cemetery in Alexandria.
In lieu of flowers, the family would like donations to be sent to St. Rita's Catholic Church.
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St. Rita Catholic Church
3815 Russell Road, Alexandria VA 22305