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Obituary: Frederick Wheldon Brown

Posted at 12:19 PM, Jun 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-06 14:19:39-04

Frederick Wheldon Brown passed away June 1, 2021 in Bozeman, Montana. Born in Bridgeport, Connecticut in January of 1928, he was raised in a historic house in Nichols, Connecticut. His aunt lived down the street in a saltbox house that was built in 1680.

The Browns arrived in America between 1620 and 1630 so Fred was a member of the Children of the American Revolution. He was a descendant of Sam Huntington, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and his father, brother, and son bear the name Huntington. He was a member of the Huntington family club. Namesake Frederick Edwin Brown was the conductor of the Bridgeport Symphony.

Igor Sikorsky, who invented the helicopter, lived across the street. The skies were abuzz with his Corsairs during the war.

While growing up, Fred’s father, Richard Huntington Brown, was good friends with L.L. Bean and they hunted together. He was also best friends with Bill Ruger and Fred would hop in the back seat of his Jaguar convertible and drive to New Hampshire to bird hunt with Bill and his dad. On the way there they hit a pheasant and threw it in the trunk and ate it that night! Fred has guns that were given to him by Bill Ruger.

Fred attended several prep schools where he was very athletic and met a number of guys who went on to professional sports. Bill Clark was the head coach at Exeter where Fred attended for a year. There he played football, but he caught scarlet fever and was in the infirmary for a couple of months. The headmaster cried when he had to tell him he had lost too much time to make grades for the fall roster.

Fred was recruited to Loomis Chaffee School by Cookie Lavagetto of Brooklyn Dodgers fame and Fred had the highest batting average there and at Kent School. Cookie hoped he would go pro. While at Loomis he was best friends with Jeff Fleishman who went on to be All American at Cornell and then to professional football for the Chicago Cardinals. Frank Quinn pitched for the Red Sox and Dad caught for him at Loomis. Bobby Burrows was catcher as well but he preferred the outfield so Fred would catch for Frank and the coach preferred Fred in the role. His hand would swell up from the speed of Frank’s pitches. Fred played football there too and was elected captain of the football team. Bobby Burrows is in the Trinity College Hall of Fame for baseball, football, and basketball. He became a professional baseball player. Much later they were golfing in Florida and Bobby hit one in a sand trap with a big gator in it and Fred said, “You hit it in there—you gotta hit it out!” But they left the gator alone.

Phil Eisenberg was also at Loomis and went on to be captain of the Harvard football team.

While a Senior at Kent School, Fred’s friend, Bobby Clark, was rooming at Yale with Barbara’s brother, Dick. Bobby introduced Fred to Barbara. Their first “date” was sitting on lawn chairs in the back of a dump truck on their way to the beach. Bobby took some hard turns and all the lawn chairs collapsed on the way, but he never heard them hollering and laughing. That adventure led to their 72-year marriage. Barbara was a student at Wellesley.

After graduating from Kent, Fred attended Brown University where he played football with Joe Paterno. Joe was QB and Fred was linebacker, but they were grooming him for Joe’s job as he had such a good arm. Rip Engle was head coach there before he left for Penn State. Weeb Ewbank was the assistant coach and he loved Fred and got Rip to watch him throw the ball before moving him to QB from linebacker. In the Brown games coach would put Fred in as QB for every other play and the crowd would boo when he took him out because he was so good. This did not please Joe.

Coach Red Munger also recruited Fred to come to Penn State and play single wing quarterback, but he stayed at Brown—probably because Barbara was at Wellesley. Both Rip and Joe left Brown U for Penn State.

In the team picture at Brown, Fred is seated next to Don Colo who later was captain of the Cleveland Browns. Don lived on the next street to Fred in Ohio.

After getting married Barb and Fred moved to Riverton, New Jersey where Fred’s love of sailing began. The Lippencott family and their boat works were located there, and Fred crewed with some of the best before buying his own Star Boat. He crewed in the Olympic Trials in Toronto and placed ninth.

They raised their three children there before Dow transferred him to the Cleveland area. He spent his career at Dow Chemical as a corporate account manager. He was the only man they kept who lacked a degree in chemical engineering, but he was a great salesman and golfer and was an integral part of the Dow roster for forty years. In Ohio he sailed a 37-ft Tartan on the Great Lakes. After retiring he played golf every day.

Fred and Barbara moved to Montana for their last years to be with kids and grandkids. Fred loved the beauty of Montana and he never got tired of looking at the mountains. His was a life well-lived. He filled his 93 years with many adventures. He was both a gentleman and a colorful character. He looked like John Wayne and people would stop him and ask if that’s who he was. He’d say, “I sure as hell wish I was!”

He is survived by three children, Tracy Brown of Litchfield, OH, Shelley Brown of Yelm, WA, and Lathie Poole of Bozeman; grandchildren, Leesa Anderson (Tim) and Tracy Poole of Bozeman; and great-grandchildren, Cooper and Anelise Anderson, and Christian and Laur’en Poole, all of Bozeman.

Private family services will take place.

Arrangements are in the care of Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service. www.dokkennelson.com [dokkennelson.com]