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  • "Ben was bigger than life to me as a child growing up. As I..."
    - Joan Barlow
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BENJAMIN BROWN Benjamin Brown of Kennewick died peacefully on May 30, 2016 after suffering a stroke a few days earlier. He lived a full and rich life of nearly 96 years. He was born July 17, 1920 in Blanco, Texas to John Anderson Brown and Mary Gertrude Dignan, the youngest of their 9 children. His father was a lo cal judge. He grew up on the family farm outside Blanco, helping to tend the animals and crops that provided most of the family's livelihood. After his father died in 1935, he took over operation of the farm, well before he graduated from Blanco High School in 1938. He farmed until reporting for service in the Army Air Corps in 1943. He received a medical discharge early in 1944. He travelled to the Pacific Northwest to work in the shipyards and at Boeing, eventually joining the merchant marine making several voyages into war zones. He continued in the merchant marine after World War II ended. In 1947, he met Helen Falk in Seattle, and, though he had just earned his marine engineer's' license, he decided to give up the sea and work ashore, to court her. They married on October 25, 1947. For the next several years he worked for Seattle City Light, first in Seattle, and then in powerhouses on the Skagit River. Three children were soon born to the family. Concerned about schooling, the family moved to Hermiston in 1955 where he worked for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at McNary dam. He later joined Bonneville Power Administration and moved to the Tri-Cities in 1957. He was involved as a volunteer with the Boy Scouts, and proud to have helped several young men, including both of his sons, earn the rank of Eagle in scouting. He enjoyed sharing his stories and the practical skills he had developed on the farm and at sea, as well as his love of the outdoors, taking his troop on many wilderness hikes. In 1970, the family moved to Moses Lake, where he built a house and continued working for Bonneville. He retired in 1980. The next several years were busy, filled with volunteer work, church, gardening, travel, building a new home, and other ventures. He was a frequent judge at Toastmaster speech contests in the region. He was a proud veteran and member of the local chapter of the Merchant Mariner's Association. As Helen's health declined, he took on increasing responsibility for her care. They returned to the Tri-Cities in 1996, to be closer to family. Helen died in 2004. Ben was preceded in death by his parents, all his brothers and sisters-- John, Mary Gertrude, Bolar, Catherine, Frank, James, Harriet, and Paul--his son Doug, daughter-in-law Elena, and granddaughter Carmina. He is survived by his son Cliff and daughter Benita and their spouses. He is also survived by grandchildren Jeff Brown, Christine (Noyes) Williams, Jamie Brown-Hansen, Matthew Noyes, Adam Brown, Diana Brown and Adele Brown, and 3 great-grandchildren. A memorial service will be held at 10 am on Saturday, June 4th, at Meadow Springs Presbyterian Church, 325 Silver Meadows Dr. in Richland.
Published in Tri-City Herald on June 3, 2016
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