On 16 October, 2013 my uncle Brownie passed peacefully away a couple of months shy of his 91st birthday. He left behind a legacy that won't soon be forgotten. How would I best describe Brownie? That’s easy. It only takes two words…Man’s man. Because as anyone who has ever known Brownie can attest, he epitomized the definition of a man. I have given some thought on how to describe the effect he had on boys. I guess you'd be most accurate to say that Brownie would not say anything if he saw a boy or man being wimpy. But just being around him lets you know that Brownie respects you when you've "Cowboy'd Up". Knowing what he respects causes others to want to be that way too. I guess you could say Brownie inspired boys to become better men.
He was tough and demanding but he also treated everyone fairly. Brownie never cheated anyone in his life. He worked hard for what he had, and I’m sure in his life there had been those who tried to cheat him. But Brownie’s integrity was always intact.
He also was never one to sugar-coat what he had to say. You could always count on Brownie to tell it as he saw it. If Brownie told you something, you could literally bet your bottom dollar that it was the truth. And there have been a couple of times in my life when I would have rather had it a little less directly. But that’s what you got with Brownie.
As tough as Brownie was, he also had a good heart. A very decent man. After he had divorced my aunt Julie, he gave her their house and still took care of her in other ways that I’m sure he was not legally obliged to do. I remember my father telling me that Brownie would store boxes of invoices and business papers in aunt Julie’s garage and would pay her for him being able to use the space. Dad said that Brownie could have stored them in his place or business but this was his way of helping aunt Julie without it seeming to be charity. How many men has anyone ever known that would do something like that?
The man had a work ethic that was second to none. I’m sure at least some of that came from his mother and I also know that he passed it on to his children. I’ve never known any of the Browns to be lazy. No matter what they were doing, they just kept going until the job was done.
In the 27 years that I was a Ford technician, the two proudest moments of my professional life were when I achieved Master Technician status and the day Brownie called me for help with an automatic transmission problem. I was able to help since I was familiar with the problem he had. And I remember walking away from the shop telephone at Jim Click Ford in Irvine that day thinking, “Wow. Uncle Brownie called me for help with something.” I was so proud that day that not only did he call me, but that I was able to help him since he had helped me out of countless predicaments when I was younger and tried to do something on my car and wound up needing help. Brownie never failed to help me.
I have always loved and respected Brownie on so many levels and it was only a couple of years ago around 2010 that he told me something that helps me explain why. He was telling me a story about how he and my dad had taken to drinking and partying leaving aunt Julie and my mom at Brownies while they stayed out until late one night. At the end of the story, he said, “you know, that wasn’t right the way we treated our wives. We had no business going out drinking and playing around. We were both married men and we shouldn’t have acted like that.”
How many men do you know that would admit that without offering an excuse to it? But that is the rare man that Brownie was. That is why so many loved and respected him so much. I am at the top of that list along with many, many others. I am so glad that I knew Brownie and proud that we were family.
That brings me to another issue here. Because of the way everyone felt about Brownie, we are all sad to know he won't be here with us anymore. But also, I feel like we got the pleasure of Brownie being in our lives. That being the case, the ones who should really be sad are the ones who never got a chance to know and love Brownie. I feel we are ahead of the game and I also know we are all better people because he was in our lives.
And finally, I hope that in writing these words I hope I am doing justice to the man who worked hard, played hard and gave life everything he had.
If not, there is one sure way to get the feeling for the kind of man Brownie was and the life he lived. It is a picture hanging on his patio that Myrt had made for him a long time ago. The title of that picture is, “King Brown”. That says it all.
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This Page Last Updated: 25 October, 2013
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