Frank N. Brown-- educator, veterans' advocate, community servant, dahlia grower and patriarch- died Sunday at the age of 95. His friends called him "Brownie."
Born July 18, 1917, in Scott County, Iowa, to Paul Brown and Emma Gray Brown, he spent his childhood in the North Woods lifeguarding, caddying, pin-setting and generally hustling to be able to attend college, the first in his family to do so. In 1937 he returned to Vilas County with a Rural School Teachers Diploma from Eau Claire Teachers College to teach in a one-room school. Several students remained friends for life.
In 1943 he answered the call of Uncle Sam to serve in the Army Air Corps, stationed in Great Britain as a mechanic and flight engineer with an air depot group supporting a squadron of B-24 "Liberators." He had married Edna Ruth Northey of Fort Atkinson in San Antonio, TX, as he was deployed. Further service during the Korean Conflict left him with a lifetime devotion to veterans issues. From 1947 to
2010 at all times Frank held office in the Veterans of Foreign Wars at the post, department or national level and was the oldest surviving past Wisconsin Department Commander at the time of his death. For his efforts to create educational opportunities for veterans and their children, the state VFW scholarship program is named for him. He considered Klubertanz-Trapp Post No. 9362 in Sun Prairie to be his VFW home.
Returning after both discharges to Wisconsin and to his family-- by then including two children, and finally able to continue his education with the help of the GI Bill-- Frank earned a bachelor's degree at Eau Claire and a masters' degree from UW-Madison while serving as Eau Claire County School Supervisor. He and a small group of fellow educators also enjoyed long weekends hunting deer and writing curricula to establish the environmental education programs for Trees for Tomorrow in Eagle River until he joined the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction and moved to Sun Prairie in 1955. He was the first educator appointed to administer the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (Title I) program in Wisconsin where he proudly directed Department efforts to improve educational opportunities for disadvantaged students, especially the children of migrant farmworkers.
Frank was a lifelong avid bowler, champion amateur golfer, dahlia raiser certified as a national show judge, and inveterate international traveler, who used his retirement to better the lives of others both in Wisconsin and his winter home in Weslaco, Texas. He was a Mason for 58 years, including service as Worshipful Master, and Zor Shriner for 41 years, volunteering service on the Director's Staff and for decades managing refreshment stands for home games at Camp Randall Stadium in support of Shrine charities. He served on the Advisory Council for Trees for Tomorrow for nearly
50 years, and chaired their publication group for many years. In Texas he served his community through the Elks in Weslaco and American Legion post in Mercedes. He was a member of the Sun Prairie United Methodist Church.
Frank was predeceased by Edna, his beloved wife of 53 years, his only brother, and his parents. He is survived by daughter, Paula Brown Sinclair (James T. Ricks) of Twin Falls, Idaho, and son, Douglas Brown of Sun Prairie, as well as four grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
Funeral arrangements are through Cress Funeral Home of Sun Prairie. A funeral celebration of Frank's life is scheduled at the Sun Prairie United Methodist Church at 702 North St., Sun Prairie at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 6 with a visitation 1 hour prior. A Masonic Service is pending.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorials that validate Frank's lifetime efforts: the Frank N. Brown Scholarship Program for VFW/VFWA at P.O. Box 6128, Monona, WI 53716-0128, or Shriners Hospitals for Children at www.shrinershospitalsforchildren.org, or the donor's favorite charity.