Gilbert Maynard Brown

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Nuclear Engineer, dies at 84

Gilbert Maynard Brown, an internationally- recognized expert on fission energy and the design and operation of nuclear power plants, died in the care of Hospice after a courageous battle with congestive heart failure on December 3, 2012, in Dunedin, Florida.

He is survived by his wife of 59 years Barbara Anderson Brown, their six children Mark, Kevin, David, Robert, Nancy and Karin, their six grandchildren Peter, Britton, Emma Lee, Jack, Dylan and Cameron, and his three brothers, Evans, Neal and John.

Born October 25, 1928, in the red clay farm country of northern Madison County, Florida near Boggy Bay, Gilbert was the son of Maggie Rambo O'Neal Brown and Will Brown, the third of six children. He grew up during the Depression in a small farmhouse on a beautiful hill. He regarded going to school when he was young as a luxury and a privilege. He was a man of responsibility and hard work, and was strong and determined until the end.

During the Korean War, Gilbert was drafted by the Army and served as a platoon leader of Quad-50 half-track combat vehicles for most of 1951-52 near Kumwha. The cold trauma of this experience shaped the rest of his life. He later declined a medal for bravery and a Battlefield Officer's Commission.

After the war, he married Barbara and entered the University of Florida, where he excelled, graduating cum laude in chemical engineering, with a minor in physics. He was a member of the Honorary Engineering Fraternity Tau Beta Pi.

He began his 40-year nuclear energy career during the early stage of the development of fission-reactor power plants, working with two scientists from the Manhattan Project. In a building formerly occupied by an orange juice plant in Dunedin, Mr. Brown co-founded Southern Nuclear Engineering Company, and began a career and company that still influences the design and safety of nuclear plants across the globe. Gilbert assisted in the design of the second US nuclear submarine, as well as many of the first nuclear power plants in the US. He was a Senior Fellow with the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, a Senior Manager with the Nuclear Energy Institute, and project manager and chief consulting engineer for the construction of the nuclear reactor at Georgia Tech. He trained personnel from several foreign countries in nuclear safety, and lectured around the world on nuclear power and technology. In another technical area, he drafted several procedures for the Saturn -V moon launch program. In the 1980's, he was called upon to assist our Government's investigation of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in Ukraine. Later in his career, Mr. Brown worked for the Department of Energy in Washington, D. C., and at the Westinghouse- Savannah River Nuclear Power Plant in Aiken, South Carolina.

After retirement, among other pursuits, Gil wrote poetry and prose, including a poem for the queen of England, for which he received personal thanks. He authored a poem about his college class that is inscribed on a bronze plaque in an engineering building on the UF campus.

A memorial mass will be held at Our Lady Of Lourdes Catholic Church, Dunedin, Saturday, December 15, at 1:00 pm. A reception will follow immediately after mass in the Comny Center at the church.

Mr. Brown will be interred at Evergreen Cemetery in Gainesville, Florida, alongside his infant daughter, Sharon Elaine Brown.

Published in Gainesville Sun from Dec. 11 to Dec. 15, 2012
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