One of SF's iconic twins has passed away

January 11, 2013 7:26:59 PM PST
A San Francisco legend has passed away, or more accurately, half of a legendary team. Vivian Brown, one of the famous San Francisco twins, died this week and now her sister will have to carry on without her.

In the small, family-owned Nob Hill Cafe, a corner table sat empty. It was a table that two nights a week was home to one of San Francisco's biggest attractions. The impeccably styled identical twins -- who graced countless advertisements, weren't just guests at the caf? -- they were the entertainment.

Nob Hill Caf? owner Christina Deeb said people would ask for their autographs and "everyone would get up, they want to take pictures and the twins would love it."

Strolling through Union Square, they were as recognizable as the Sir Francis Drake's beefeater doormen.

"Watching them walk down the hill every day, basically side by side with each other with the exact same thing on -- their smiles, their waves," said Laban Wade, the Sir Francis Drake doorman.

Those walks ended when Vivian -- the elder by eight minutes -- was hospitalized with Alzheimer's disease. Her sister was alone for the first time.

Marian said "I hope they find a cure for Alzheimer's." She visited Vivian almost daily, thanks to an outpouring of donations that allowed her to stay in the city.

"People would email with wanting to help and volunteer, to donate. Services are costly when you're elderly and you need care," said Barbara Farber with the Jewish Family and Children's services.

Caretakers say Vivian finally passed away peacefully, in her sleep.

The Brown Twins were so impeccable in their identical-ness that even people who've known them for decades say there isn't a story, a conversation, even an outfit that involved just one of them. For them, imagining Marian without her sister is next to impossible.

When asked if he could tell them apart, Wade replied, "No, I couldn't tell them apart. Honestly, I could not tell them apart."

"There was no way to tell them apart. As a matter of fact, you would not want to tell them apart," said former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown. Himself a local icon, Brown said the twins embodied the uniqueness and togetherness that is San Francisco. "Her passing means one half of that team is now gone, so a little bit of the city just left us."


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