There is no definition of it in Webster’s, but if there was it could possibly be a synonym for “service to others” for it seems that is all he has done throughout his life.
It is virtually impossible to have a conversation with him about himself because it always turns to the idea of being there for everyone else.
He is the third generation of the Brown family to own the Brown Stove Works in Cleveland.
Even the company’s principles he is quoted as saying on its website espouses the thought of doing it for others.
“If our customers aren’t satisfied, then we haven’t even done our job,” he posted to the site.
Brown sat with his son, Matthew, for a few minutes after the Rotary Club of Cleveland had celebrated his 50 years of perfect attendance as a member.
“Embarrassing your son isn’t what fathers do, is it?” he was asked.
“Well, it hadn’t been my whole life,” Brown retorted with a laugh and a smile — two attributes that seem to always be there.
Part of that will to serve, he said, comes from his grandfathers and his father who all served in Rotary.
“My father joined before my grandfather did, and he is the one who sponsored my grandfather coming into Rotary,” Brown said. “They talked about what a great service group it was, and there weren’t many of those.”
He said Rotary was different because it recognized all vocations and was diversified.
Brown attended Arnold Elementary School, eventually leading to an academic term at Baylor School in Chattanooga.
“I realized pretty quick I wasn’t going to be a real big jock,” Brown said. “So, I decided I’d study a little bit harder.”
He said he made the honor roll, especially enjoying the subjects of math and science, which led to an engineering degree from Georgia Tech.
“I went into the family business that started in 1935,” he said.
That is a business he is still involved with, but he says Matthew is “making most of the day-to-day decisions.”
For Brown, it’s not all about the business.
“I do like sports, mostly football and basketball,” he said. “And I keep up with local affairs.”
Both Brown and his son have served on the Bradley County Commission.
Having served on that body, he said he can have some sympathy for what those commission members go through.
“They have some tough decisions, and they have to make them under tough circumstances sometimes,” Brown said.
His wife, Barbara, is from Atlanta, and they got married during his last quarter of college.
“That’s all she wanted to do was to be a homemaker and a mother, and I’ve been very much blessed to have her,” Brown said.
Once again, he turned to his Rotary experience.
“She made a joke [out of attending Tuesday noon Rotary],” he said. “She said to not come home on lunch for Tuesday, she wouldn’t be there. I came back saying I wouldn’t know where to eat if I didn’t have Rotary.”
Matthew said his mother figured his father had eaten in the neighborhood of 2,600 meals at Rotary.
Along with his wife and son is his daughter, Louise, and that trio is very special to him.
“They are very important to me,” Brown said. “Without that family, you don’t have the support to do anything, really.”
He said his dedication to Rotary, what it stands for and what it does came from his grandparents and father.
“They talked about starting this program or that program, and I would ask what they meant. They said it was a service club,” Brown said.
“My father was proud of the fact of ‘service above self’ and ‘the four-way test’ and every vocation is an honorable one.”
Matthew interjects to add Brown’s father served as Rotary district lieutenant governor during the 1950s.
Brown said Rotary’s effort to end polio has been one of the projects that has meant a lot to him.
“There were quite a number of projects I thought were quite worthwhile over the years,” he said. “But, when I heard the Rotarians commit to eradicating polio worldwide, I believed they could.”
Brown recalled during his youth, a disease such as polio was a death sentence.
“It was terrifying,” he said. “Rotarians have now been able to take those drops and get through the political messes in some of these countries and it is only in three countries now.”
Brown said faith is an important part of his life.
“I’ve been blessed to have had good health,” he said.
And, part of that is his simple rules to ensure having a good life.
“Praise the Lord and go to church and do the best you can,” Brown said.