Febrary 17, 1881 - October 1955
|Robert M. Brown, youngest of the eleven children of William and Hannah Brown, was born February 27, 1881, in East Baton Rouge Parish in what is now the Bethel Community. Life on the river farms in the 1880’s was difficult at best, and when Hannah Brown died in Robert’s eleventh year he left school to work on the family farm with three brothers and his father, then past sixty years of age. Five years later, when William Brown died, the brothers separated, each to make his own way, and Robert found employment as a clerk in a small general store.
The plans and efforts of the next six years were directed toward fulfilling a dream that had been in the boy’s heart since the age of eight years — the dream of entering the Christian ministry. The guidance and example of devout parents in a home that was continually shared with traveling ministers; the inspiration of an uncle, Wiley Brown, and an older brother, Newton, both of whom preceded him into the ministry; and God’s persistent call to a pure heart made the goal of Robert’s life abundantly clear.
At the age of twenty4wo he enrolled in Milsapps Academy with a group of boys little more than half his age, and in six years completed both high school and college work, receiving his diploma in the spring of 1909. His subsequent enrollment in Vanderbuilt University was to last only three months because of the absence of financial resources.
In 1910 Robert Brown married Martha Macintosh Simpson, of Searcy, Arkansas, and together they came to Louisiana to begin a beautiful marriage and an outstanding ministry, supplying the Simmesport-Marksville Charge. Robert was ordained Deacon in December 1912, and Elder two years later. Through the next thirty-nine years he served as pastor of Boyce-Lecompte, Algiers, Felicity in New Orleans, Oakdaie, Zwolle, Merryville, Morgan City, Mangun3 Memorial in Shreveport, Arcadia, Napoleon Avenue in New Orleans, Gentilly, Lake Arthur and Oberlin. During these same years he also served as Presiding Elder of the Minden and Ruston Districts. Having suffered a heart attack while pastor in Gentilly, he was forced to accept a retired status In June 1953. Robert and Martha Brown then moved into their own home at 162 Albert Street in Shreveport, for one of the happiest periods of their lives; for the first time they were in their own home, and shortly thereafter Brother Brown assumed the unique position of Associate Pastor in First Methodist Church, Bossier City, where his son, Alfred, was pastor. It was in this capacity that he served until an October Sunday morning in 1955, when death came in the very midst of his preparations to go to the Lord’s House. Death could never have found him other than busy about his Father’s business.
Tributes to Brother Brown range all the way from the often-repeated statement, “He was the best man I ever knew”, to the lovely fact that all five children were inspired to follow him into lives of service to God and humanity. Robert, the younger of two sons, is the type of devoted layman who serves God and man in his employment as a Postal Supervisor and as Secretary of the Official Board of the Broadmoor Methodist Church in Shreveport. The older son, Alfred, is an effective member of the Louisiana Conference presently serving as pastor of the First Methodist Church in Bossier City. A daughter, Miriam, has devoted her life to the field of nursing and serves with all the devotion of her father after the fashion of the Great Physician. Two other daughters, Annie Ruth and Sue Ellen, are Mrs. J. W. Matthews, Jr. and Mrs. D. L. Dykes, Jr., respectively, both having married ministers in the Louisiana Conference and serving therein.
A fitting description of Robert Brown’s ministry lies in the fact that when Presiding Elder of the Ruston District he preached the sermon that first made Christ real in this writer’s heart and mind. By his life and his messages he made Christ known as a personal Friend to people in every part of Louisiana. The following quotation from an editorial in the secular press, published in Bossier City the day after Brother Brown’s death, sums up the wide-spread appreciation and affection his life inspired:
“The death of a good man who has spent his life dedicated to service in the field of his profound religious convictions is not a tragic event. Beside the sadness of hearts of loved ones and friends, all else is glory. Behind he leaves a heritage of good example and memories to be cherished more and more when the passing of time and the hand of the Great Comforter wipe away the tears. .
At the conclusion of the funeral service, the great organ in First Methodist Church, Shreveport, filled the sanctuary with the triumphant strains of “The Hallelujah Chorus”, typifying the life and the everlasting glory of a man who walked with God.
|Source: Journal of the Louisiana Conference of the Methodist Church, Pages 151-152, 1956 by Douglas L. McGuire.|