Maj. Gen. Brown remembered for heroism, friendship

Published 12:32 am Wednesday, December 23, 2009

NATCHEZ — For a two-star major general in the armed services who met the Queen of England and worked at the Pentagon, a porch in Natchez was the perfect retirement.

Maj. Gen. Grover Cleveland Brown, 96, retired to Natchez nearly 40 years ago. Aside from a good bit of golf in his early years and a weekly visit to Vidalia for breakfast, there was no better place for Brown than watching the world go by from his porch, friends said.

Brown died Sunday after a recent case of pneumonia.

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“He was just a fine person and a good neighbor,” next door neighbor Hayden Kaiser said. “He was always jolly and seemed in good spirits.”

Brown joined the Army Air Corps as a cadet in 1939 and was soon sent to fight World War II.

He flew as a part of bombing missions during D-Day, and though he lost many friends, he was never injured.

In 1945 he was reassigned to work at the Pentagon, where he worked for three years.

In 1959 he became air attaché to England.

Brown was decorated with the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit with oak leaf clusters, the Distinguished Flying Cross with four oak leaf clusters and a Bronze Star.

His last assignment was as principal intelligence officer for the chairman of the joint chiefs of Staff in Washington, D.C.

But the accomplishments weren’t something to brag about in Brown’s mind. And the story of his life revolved most around his wife Marguerite.

The two met before the war. They were married 30 days before he left. And they were separated for 33 months before a romantic airport reunion that Brown called “dramatic.”

In recent years, Brown served as caregiver for Marguerite after she suffered a stroke.

Retirement was a fun time for Brown, friend and fellow veteran Erle Drane said.

“He came back to civilian life and enjoyed what I call a long retirement,” Drane said. “He was very proud of his service; he was grateful to his country and he just enjoyed his retirement.”

Neighbor Judge Charlie Vess said Brown never forgot his military mentality, yet enjoyed life to the fullest.

“He was a top-notch guy and a man you could always depend on,” Vess said. “He never met a stranger and was very congenial.”

That happy personality was a product of the way Brown lived, his daughter Keri McClellan said.

“He did as much as he could for as long as he could,” she said. “In every walk of his life he was extremely motivated and an extremely caring person.

“He loved to be in nature. He was a pilot, he loved clouds, birds dogs and people.”

Brown exercised and did aerobics until recent years and always celebrated life, hid daughter said.

The funeral will be at Young’s Funeral Home on Dec. 28, what would have been Brown’s 97th birthday.

He is survived by his wife, his daughter and 13 grandchildren.