VFW Honors Veteran Brown In Celebration of Life

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The two gentlemen shown --Dave Cline, on the left, and R.J. Arnett-- organized the event for Brownie.

GREENVILLE–On the eve of the anniversary of the United States Marine Corps (USMC) and two days before Veterans Day, the Greenville Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) honored one of its own at a Celebration of Life at the post home on North Ohio Street on Saturday evening.

Nelson “Brownie” Brown died on April 16 this year, four days after his 78th birthday, and it was decided to pay tribute to him, and what better time than November 10.

Here are a couple of items of Brownie’s that were on display at the Celebration of Life at the VFW.

“That was Brownie’s favorite date because he served in the Marine Corps,” said Dave Cline, one of the organizers who planned the Celebration of Life with another one of Brownie’s friends, R.J. Arnett.

Cline said he ran around with Brownie in 1969 when Brownie joined the VFW.

“He had a Norton cycle back in the ’70s,” Cline recalled.

Arnett said he has been a neighbor of Brownie’s for 50 years and also worked with him at Corning.

“He was the last of his family,” Arnett said. “His two brothers were priests. He grew up in Frenchtown.”

And Brownie was a friend to many. When he was feeling well, he would patronize the VFW, and upon his death, those coming to the VFW that day would see an empty stool at the bar with his favorite beverage as well as a newspaper lying there. It was so symbolic of him.

Whoever wanted to attend the event was welcome to come and share memories of Brownie, and quite a few did just that.

To start the actual celebration, Rod Saylor gave a toast with a “Semper Fi,” and all raised their glasses to commemorate this special man.

Saylor is a fellow Marine.

“I’ve known Brownie forever,” said Saylor, who served two tours in Vietnam in 1969 and 1971. “We are brothers forever and always will be.”

The first to talk about the honoree was Jim Short of Versailles, who ran around with Brownie when younger.

“We grew up together in Duck Town, that’s across the railroad tracks in Versailles,” Short said. “Behind the Versailles Feed Mill was a two-tiered corn crib. I was up on the second deck, and Nellie (his nickname for Brownie) was down on the ground. We were throwing ears of corn at each other, all in fun, and one of the ears that Nellie (Brownie) threw hit me in the head, and I fell to the bottom floor. As I remember, no one was hurt, and we had a good laugh about it, and every time I would see Nellie at the VFW, he would say, ‘Get away from me, Jim, or I’ll hit you in the head with an ear of corn.”

Betty and Lindy Monnin were among those who also shared memories.

“Brownie’s brother was a Brother in the Catholic Church,” Betty said. “Lindy joined the VFW, and Brownie was probably the first person we met. That was around 15 years ago. And, I worked with Carol Brown from Versailles, who was married to Jerry Brown, Brownie’s brother.”

Military paperwork belonging to Nelson “Brownie’ Brown was also on display at the event.

Two other visitors to the celebration were his good friend, Sue Morrow, and her sister Kathryn Arbruckle.

“I’ve known him for 50 years, said Morrow. “He was my best friend.”

Another real close friend of the honoree was Phil Pitman, who has known Brownie for years and spent a lot of time with him.

“Don Wright hired him as a bouncer when he didn’t have a job,” Pitman said of Brownie. “We would take race trips and have breakfast, stopping at the clubs. We would go to different places… Indiana, Celina, wherever.”

Pitman didn’t remember exactly just how long they were friends but said they met at the VFW.

“His favorite place to go was Fountain City, Ind., before the pandemic,” Pitman reported. “They had a family diner there, and we’d order potatoes and eggs. Sometimes, we’d go to Fort Recovery for lunch and go across the street and visit the Army and Navy surplus store.”

There was also lots of conversation going on around the bar, no doubt focusing on the honoree.

Yes, Brownie is going to be missed by not only the VFW members but by the many friends he has made over the years. A private person,  he was a real gentleman, an American, and a patriot.

Semper Fi.