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The Paul Mortuary

OBITUARY

Robert Harrison Brown

February 22, 1938January 19, 2019

Robert Harrison Brown passed away peacefully at his home in Pacific Grove, California on January 19,2019. Robert H (Bob) Brown was born to R.H. and Frances Adaline Brown on February 22, 1938 in Edinburg, Texas. He grew up in Douglas, Arizona, where he began a lifetime of outdoor activities including hunting, fishing and hiking. In high school, Robert excelled in baseball and music, choosing a music scholarship to college over an offer to play baseball in the minor leagues. At the University of Arizona he studied biology, earning a PhD in 1965. There he met Jane Pattison, whom he would marry in 1960, beginning a relationship which would see him through to the very end. In 1967, after two years in the Biology Department at the University of Idaho in Moscow, the family moved to Ellensburg, Washington, drawn by a position at Central Washington University and the proximity to the beautiful Cascade Mountains. Robert would spend the rest of his career at Central, serving as a professor, Biology Department chair and Dean of the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences before retiring in 1997. He influenced innumerable lives thru his dedication to teaching and university administration. When not engaged in family activities at home, or taking care of whatever ‘critters’ were in his collection at the time (from snakes and lizards to donkeys, sheep, a goat and an Alaskan Malamute), Robert’s free time was spent in the mountains – summer and winter – hiking, snowshoeing and skiing with colleagues, friends and family members. Humorous (and sometimes hair-raising) tales of these adventures became part of family lore. In all areas of his life Robert lived with the highest degree of honesty and integrity. He was good natured, easy going, and had a great sense of humor. Present without fail at important life events, whether ballgames, musical concerts, graduations, weddings, funerals, and the births of all his grandkids, ‘Papa’ was always there to encourage and support his family. After retirement Robert and Jane relocated to Pacific Grove, California, spending the winters in Green Valley, Arizona, where they continued outdoor activities and enjoyed photography. They traveled, exploring both the US and numerous countries on five other continents together. In retirement, Robert took up playing the clarinet of his younger years – an activity he continued even as medical complications and Alzheimer’s took their toll. Robert is survived by Jane, his wife of 58 years, children Peggy (Lawrence) of Nuremberg, Germany and Michael (Cheri) of Phoenix, Arizona, and grandchildren Hannah, Cooper, Spencer and Catie, as well as his brother Marvin (Maureen), of Sun Valley, Idaho. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be sent to Hospice Giving Foundation (80 Garden Court, Ste.201, Monterey, CA 93940 or https://hospicegiving.org/donate/); Alzheimer’s Association, Northern CA & Northern Nevada Chapter, 2290 N. First St., Set.101, San Jose, CA 95131. or Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, Tucson Arizona, 95758 or the charity of your choice.

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  • Hospice Giving Foundation
  • Alzheimer's Association, Northern CA & Northern NV Chapter
  • Arizona Sonora Desert Museum
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Memories

Robert Harrison Brown

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Carl Barrentine

March 5, 2019

Robert H. Brown: My Dear Zoology Professor

In January of nineteen seventy-three, when I was twenty
And you were just turning thirty-five, you taught me all about Romer—
‘Form follows function,’ you said, and then I got busy dissecting the dead,
First the shark, then the salamander, thereafter the pigeon and cat,
All that formalin and formaldehyde, six months of my life was all that.
I learned all the names and articulations of cartilages and bone,
All the insertions and actions of a hundred-plus muscles to be known,
And all those venous and arterial vessels that shunt blood to and from each heart,
And I learned the all those cranial nerves, the structures of each brain, every part,
And I came to love anatomy, to love what was once hidden, and I felt totally smart!
You helped me to find value in what others can’t see--
Remember, ‘what’s essential is invisible,’ opined Saint-Exupery.
That’s what you taught me, and I was grateful for this,
But there was something more, something revealed much later
When I was reading Ezra Pound, his story of ‘Agassiz and the Fish.’
Yes, the lesson you taught, the learning that most mattered to me,
Came as a revelation, quite suddenly, when I was thirty-five, teaching biology.
The ‘hidden curriculum’, the ‘real lesson’ you that you taught,
Was not about anatomy, but critical thought!
Your aim was to get me to observe more closely, become more curious,
To get me to see that learning’s more about ‘play’ and less about ‘serious,’
And that was the gist of it all, all those hours that I’d toiled, all the knowledge I’d learned:
The task was to build a life that’s worth living, and not about the money one’s earned.

–Carl Barrentine (CWU, B.A. Zoology, 1974; and M.S. Biology 1978)

Sophie Eberhart

January 26, 2019

It is indeed a loss. I am very sorry to hear this. Being friends with his daughter, Peggy, (from first grade on) I spent time around the Brown household. From what I saw, he was the epitome of a good dad, being engaged and curious and friendly and patient -- especially patient. He put up with all sorts of kid-shenanigans. I’m thinking especially of the time Peggy used saxophone practice to interrupt his attempt to grade papers. She drove him from room to room and ultimately outside the house, where he continued his paper-work sitting on his motorcycle! He endured that without uttering a harsh word towards her. I marveled first at her nerve, but mostly at his display of patience. I am still in awe.

David Lapen

January 24, 2019

I was extremely sad to hear this news. Some of my fondest memories growing up in Ellensburg were associated with the Brown family. My thoughts are with Mrs. Brown, Peggy, and my old friend Mike.

FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY