Mary Ellen Sales Brumbaugh passed away at her home in Peachtree City, Georgia on Thursday, May 28 at 3:30 a.m. after a lengthy struggle with chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder. Her husband, Orson Brumbaugh, was with her. She was 67.
Mary Ellen was born on Tuesday, March 3, 1953, to Martha Ellen (Sorrell) Sales and Wilbert Newton Sales of Hyattsville, Maryland. She was the youngest of five siblings in a tight-knit Christian family living in a small neighborhood around the corner from the First Baptist Church. She attended Hyattsville and University Park Elementary Schools, Hyattsville Junior High School, and Northwestern Senior High School, graduating with the Class of 1971. She attended Montgomery Community College.
As a child Mary Ellen was so shy she would hide behind her mother’s skirt when someone came to the front door and she did not like the camera. She had outgrown her shyness by the day at age four when she visited her sister’s kindergarten class for the morning. She flitted from table to table playing games, building blocks, painting, laughing, and forgetting all about her big sister. In elementary school she loved tumbling and playing with her many girlfriends and the boy next door. She participated in Sunday School, G.A’s, Vacation Bible School, and every church activity for children her age. She made lots of friends being a Brownie Girl Scout.
Growing up, Mary Ellen and all her siblings enjoyed being part of the “Coca-Cola family” where their father worked, attending annual summer picnics at Marshall Hall and Christmas parties with Santa at the Coca-Cola Bottling Plant in Landover, MD. (A class field trip to see how Coca-Cola was bottled was a favorite for classmates.) She and her sister Martha Ann especially enjoyed the fascination of having three older brothers who took them to Saturday morning movies at the Sidney Lust Hyattsville Movie Theater; who competed every summer in the Washington, DC Soap Box Derby; who took them along to rock and roll concerts; and who worked on vintage automobiles and motorcycles and took them to the annual DC Auto Show.
From a young age Mary Ellen was a gifted musician. In the third grade she began taking piano lessons, and in fifth grade she joined the school orchestra and learned to play the flute. Her love of music blossomed in junior high and high school when she took private flute lessons and played in the school band. She taught herself to play the guitar and loved to sing and play for herself and for others and she had a beautiful singing voice. After high school she sang with different bands, including her brother’s band “Red Sales and the Sunsets.” They played every low-paying stage in DC. In the spring of 1977, she sang with the band at the Cellar Door in Georgetown right up until her son Gabe was born on May 18.
Mary Ellen adored Gabe and was always so proud of him, constantly letting him know over the years with hugs, phone calls, and long handwritten letters. Mary Ellen loved him deeply and was not afraid to do whatever was necessary to make sure Gabe knew that he was protected, safe and loved. She was his biggest fan.
Mary Ellen was also immensely proud of her daughter-in-law, Donna, and her grandchildren, Ethan and Gaby (her "Lovebugs 1 & 2") who fondly called her "Grandma B." She mostly loved to spend time with them, either in person or virtually, and shared with them her passions for art, music, and God. Together they loved crafting, baking, making silly faces, laughing, and taking golf cart rides all around Peachtree City with “Popi.” Grandma B especially enjoyed spoiling them with thoughtful holiday and birthday gifts, many of which were handmade and will be cherished forever.
Other passions were a part of Mary Ellen’s entire life. She loved animals, especially dogs and cats. “Ben” was a black lab/weimaraner who would wander the neighborhood of Hyattsville for days and come home clean and wearing a bandanna. “Jocko” was a black lab/Newfoundland who was much too big for a house. “Cody” was a frisky brown lab puppy who eventually became a beloved companion and the last dog she would own. She had many house cats as pets -- “Bear” and “Stella” -- and she befriended a number of feral cats and underfed neighborhood cats over the years -- “Frank” and “Punkin”. She loved gardening and would grow lush flowers and vegetables on a patch of dirt next to the driveway or in her spacious backyard on the Peachtree City Golf Course.
In 2002 Mary Ellen married Orson Brumbaugh, the real “boy next door” and her friend of many years. They married and lived in Nashville where Orson worked for the Coca-Cola Company. They settled in Peachtree City, Georgia shortly after marriage. Mary Ellen enjoyed being part of Peachtree City United Methodist Church where she participated in Sunday school, bible study groups, and a book club. She and Orson tooled around the city and its many trails in their golf cart and enjoyed meals at the golf club.
Cody loved coming along to run next to the golf cart too. With her marriage to Orson, Mary Ellen enjoyed a new extended family with Orson’s daughters, Rebekah and Karen, and his grandchildren, Stella, Samantha, Dylan and Elijah. Whenever families and grandchildren visited, Mary Ellen always had games and crafts lined up to entertain the troops.
Mary Ellen fought her COPD with courage and strength. She was never one to dwell on the negative. If you asked her how she was doing, she would always say “Great!” She fought her disease as she lived her life. She had a deeply-rooted Christian faith. She lived her life with gratitude, passion, independence, strength, love, and commitment for her family and friends. She had the most beautiful smile and eyes. Her voice was strong and pure. She was intuitive and spiritual in her thinking. On a moment’s notice Mary Ellen would captivate an audience of family and friends singing and dancing to music. One particular memory was a “sing-along night” with Orson’s family when she put on a show singing and dancing to the song “Shotgun” by Junior Walker and the Allstars. Everyone was in awe of her humor and showmanship and they rolled on the floor with laughter and joy. It will be a memory the Brumbaugh family will never forget. Orson and Mary Ellen also enjoyed playing musical games with each other, like answering the question, “How much do you love me?” with musical lyrics and melodies from popular love songs.
Orson’s parents, Mary and Don Brumbaugh, and Mary Ellen’s parents were particularly close next-door neighbors on Clagett Road in University Park for many years. They truly were best friends. Over the years they were always there for each other, during the good times and the challenging times.
Mary Ellen leaves behind her husband, Donald Orson Brumbaugh; her son, Gabriel James Sales-Smith, and his wife, Donna, of Gaithersburg, MD; her brother, Richard Allen Sales (Joanne) of Qualicum Beach, British Columbia; and her sister, Martha Sales Newman (Edward) of Springfield, VA. She is predeceased by her parents, Martha and “Wick” Sales of University Park, MD; and her brothers Robert H. Sales (Elizabeth) of Cockeysville, MD, and Michael B. Sales (Anne) of Cumming, GA. She also leaves her cherished grandchildren, Ethan and Gabriella. Her 11 nieces and nephews and their spouses, her 22 great-nieces and -nephews, and a multitude of cousins mourn her loss.
A private funeral service will be held in Schellsburg, PA, followed by burial at the Fishertown (PA) Cemetery. The funeral, burial and meal will be private.
Donations in memory of Mary Ellen may be made to the Congregational Care program at Mary Ellen’s home church: Peachtree United Methodist Church, 225 Robinson Road, Peachtree City, GA 30269. Please write “Congregational Care” in the memo line of your check.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Mary Ellen (Sales) Brumbaugh, please visit our floral store.