Brenda Buchanan Epes

Brenda Buchanan Epes passed away on Saturday, December 17, 2022. She was a lifelong native of Virginia, having been born in Norfolk on October 4, 1948, to the late James Buchanan and Hilda Payne Buchanan. She lived there until her family relocated to Yorktown, Virginia when she was in her teens. Her first two years of high school were spent at Oscar Smith H.S. and she graduated from York H.S. in 1966. Following high school, she attended Christopher Newport Community College, where she met, fell in love with, and married Cary Barclay Epes on February 22, 1969. Days later, he was shipped out to Vietnam. She waited for him and when he safely returned, they started a family, moved to Newport News, and shared a loving relationship together until he passed away, 53 years later.

Brenda enjoyed a career at Waters Advertising Agency, where she worked as a media director until she retired. Her true passion in life was children, not only her own but several foster children she took into her home in the 1970s, the children at Safehaven, a home for children from abusive homes, where she volunteered and served on the board for many years, the children of Hilton Elementary School, where she volunteered to read books in the classroom for all the years her two children were in attendance, all of her nieces and nephews, grand-nieces and nephews and her grandchildren. She could not look at a baby in public without a warm smile appearing on her face. Brenda’s heart contained more love than she could possibly share with her family. No person could meet her and not experience her joy and warmth and feel more special afterward.Her friends are too many to number. Love, justice, fairness, equality, and empathy spilled from her heart in overabundance.

Brenda was preceded in death by her husband, parents, and stillborn grandson, Brayden Franklin Epes.  She is survived by her son, Cary Barclay Epes Jr., his wife, Tara Franklin Epes, and their daughter, Ella Marie Epes; daughter, Karla Epes Fife, her husband, Steve Fife, their daughter, Tavia Addison Fife and their son, Aiden James Fife; her sister, Phyllis Buchanan Mandrona, her husband George and their children and grandchildren; her brother, James Buchanan, his wife Cindy and their children and grandchildren; her sister-in-law, Susan Epes Foltz, her husband Doug, their daughter and grandson; and her brother-in-law, Charles Epes, his wife Debbie and their children and grandchildren.

Special, heartfelt gratitude goes out from her children to the staff at Elite Elder Care, especially Sophia Evans, with whom she formed a tight bond in her final months, her “granddaughter-niece,” Kara Smith, who came to be with her and provide much-needed love and assistance at the beginning of her illness, the staff at Riverside Cancer Care and her many friends and relatives that were there for her until the end.

The family will receive friends on Thursday, December 29 from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. at Peninsula Funeral Home.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that support be given in the form of donations to Hampton Roads Good Samaritan Fund P.O. Box 298, Lanexa, VA 23089.

Arrangements are under the care of Peninsula Funeral Home, 11144 Warwick Blvd., Newport News, VA 23601.


  1. Chaplain Marie Boyd

    Brenda was a Angel on earth. Her smile was contagious. She loved her family and every child in the world. Her faith was strong and she fought to live till the end. I will always remember our conversations about God and her children . Rest in peace my friend, your work here on earth is done.. now rest…♥️♥️♥️🙏🙏🎚🎚🎚

  2. Tikishia E, RN

    Rest in heaven my dear friend. I am so blessed that I had the opportunity to meet you and Cary. The way we came to know one another was an odd one but God makes no mistakes. I pray for comfort for your family. You were an angel that walked the earth and God decided he needed you more. I am happy that you will be at rest with Cary while he is wearing his Polka dot shorts we all loved so much.

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