Harold George Brown (1922 - 2018)

Obituary
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  • "My Dad flew with Mr. Brown(brownie) in the War, Gods speed..."
    - James Dickman
  • "Kids Kitchen sends their heart felt condolences."
  • "Condolences to the brown family from Betty Shirley (combs)..."
    - betty Shirley (combs)
  • "George will always be missed. The Lucky Wishbone will never..."
    - Lana Helgelien/Gundersen
  • "We did not know George well but we sure knew the Lucky..."
    - Jim Mills
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Harold George Brown, 96, founder of Alaska's Lucky Wishbone Restaurant, succumbed to the conditions of old age on Jan. 13, 2018. Born in the family home in rural Wisconsin, George was the second son of John Calvin and Dagny (Jeppesen) Brown.
George attended country school in Wisconsin and graduated high school in 1939 in Red Wing, Minn. He joined the MN National Guard which was federalized in 1941, the World War looming. His unit was sent to Alcatraz Island to guard the Golden Gate Bridge. At 21, he was a master sergeant when he qualified for Officers' Candidate School. In 1943, he finished flight school at Luke Field, Ariz., as a second lieutenant. Also in 1943, George met the love of his life, Margaret "Peggy" Krause; they married in 1944. George soon received orders to India to fly B-24s across the treacherous Himalayas, known then as the "Hump." For his service, Capt. Brown earned the Distinguished Flying Cross and Air Medal.
After the war, George returned to his home town, where he and Peg opened a restaurant with George's brother Jack and wife Shirley. They later sold their half and left the Midwest permanently in 1951, and headed to the Last Frontier. Four adults, two children and a black lab crowded into a 1949 Nash for two bumpy, dusty weeks on the road. George worked construction on Elmendorf Air Force Base and built a house evenings and weekends.
In 1955, the couple purchased three lots on East 5th Avenue. At that time the neighborhood was part residential and part 24-hour nightclubs. George, then a labor foreman and his partner, Sven Jonasson, built the new restaurant almost entirely themselves.
The Lucky Wishbone opened its doors on Nov. 30, 1955, and brought in a whopping $80 the first day! Within a year, Sven sold his share. After the last child was born, the family moved from the tiny house next to the restaurant to a new split-level in College Village. George again did most of the construction himself and maintained the thickest and greenest lawn in the neighborhood. The house and the restaurant all survived the 1964 Earthquake.
George's mom died of cancer, and in her honor, the Lucky Wishbone became the first non-smoking restaurant in Alaska in 1991. The decision was both revolutionary and controversial, and according to Peggy, almost caused a divorce, fearing they would lose too many of their long-time customers and employees. Fortunately, no employees quit and business actually improved.
The restaurant has received many accolades, and in 2002 was named Alaska's Small Business of the Year by the SBA. Peggy flew to Washington, D.C., to receive the award and was introduced to President Bush by Senator Stevens who told the President, "This lady makes some of the best fried chicken in the country." In 2005, George and Peggy traveled to China, officially invited by the Chinese Government on the 60th anniversary of the "Hump Pilots" and the Flying Tigers, to honor their efforts in WWII.
Sadly, Peggy's health deteriorated to the point she could no longer work at the restaurant. George lovingly cared for her throughout her lengthy illness. In February 2011, the couple celebrated their 67th anniversary and in April, Peggy passed away in Anchorage.
In 2010, George received the Wright Brothers Master Pilot award, granted to pilots with 50 or more years of safe flying. With 73 years in the cockpit, George last landed his Cessna 180, on the Deshka River at the age of 94. Throughout his life he mastered and excelled in sports: baseball, bowling, trapshooting and tennis. When he gave up golf in his 80s, he was still shooting below his age. At almost 95, on his annual pheasant hunt, George walked the corn fields with far younger guys.
George was preceded in death by his parents; his wife, Peggy; son, John; daughter, Lorelei; and brothers, Leon and Jack.
He is survived by his sister, Elaine Lytle; sister-in-law, Shirley Brown; daughter, Patricia Heller (John); son, HG Brown Jr. "Corky" (Jolyn); granddaughter, Stacey Bender (Tom); grandsons, Scott Edwards (Christine), Mark Edwards (Irma), Logan Brown (Kayla) and Landon Brown. He also leaves great-grandchildren, Catherine, Julia, Axel, Alex and Derek Edwards and Evylise and Brenlyn Brown, plus scores of nieces and nephews.
In lieu of flowers, memorials are suggested to be given to veterans' organizations, the Alaska Aviation Museum, or Pheasants Forever.
A Celebration of Life will be held at the Alaska Aviation Museum from 2 p.m. - 4 p.m. on Feb, 11, 2018. Burial will be at the Anchorage Memorial Cemetery in June.
Arrangements are being made by Witzleben Funeral Home.
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Published in Anchorage Daily News on Jan. 18, 2018