Joesph N. Brown
Joseph N. Brown, 90, died on November 17. He was the beloved husband of Jeannette (Carpenter) Brown for 19 years. Born in 1924 in Durham, Maine, he was a son of the late Joseph and Charity Brown. He served during World War II as a tank instructor at Camp Hord, Texas. On a week-long furlough in 1944 he married Fern Hastings, to whom he was married for 50 years until her death in 1994.
After the war he attended Bates College
in Lewiston, Maine, on the GI Bill, while supporting his family by selling Fuller Brushes. By his graduation in 1950 he had a family of four children, later followed by four more, with whom he shared many “game nights” and adventuresome bedtime stories.
Joe moved to RI in 1954. Through the years he held many jobs, one of his favorites being teaching at Ponaganset High School where he also coached Cross Country (“just get the next man”) and started the Adult Education Program. He also started the Scituate / Foster Little League Program, was secretary to the Building Committee of Trimtown Elementary School, and served for a number of years on the Board of Directors of the North Scituate Library.
In 1969, while working on his Masters Degree in the Gerontology Program at URI, he founded the RI Meals on Wheels Program. Working originally out of Grace Church in Providence with his wife Fern and 17 volunteers, he led RI Meals on Wheels to become one of the largest such programs in the country, and the only state-wide program. He served as Executive Director for 22 years, and on the Board of Directors for 45 years. Elected as a Lifetime Member in 2011, he continued to attend every meeting he could. At the time of his death 17, 493, 528 million meals had been served in RI. He was Rhode Island’s representative at the formation of the National Association of Meals on Wheels and was elected as that body’s first National President. In 1975 he started the RI Food Bank. He was also on the Advisory Commission to the RI Department of Elderly Affairs and was an officer of the RI Silver-Haired Legislature.His diplomacy and common-sense wisdom took him far, not only in the business world but also in the arena of his church. He was ordained in 1978 as a lay pastor for Woodhaven Chapel in North Scituate, and served for many years on the Board of Directors of The Kingdom Christian Ministries, several of those years as President. He was a man of strong but simple faith who believed in God’s goodness and in His ability to answer prayer.
Joe was known for his kindness, his hearty greetings, his generosity, and his warm hospitality. He enjoyed people, having a knack for seeing the good in them. He was unassuming and optimistic, good-natured and caring. He could shed tears over Disney movies, but could also give sound practical advice in many fields. He was a humble, loving, and well-loved man.
He is survived by his wife Jeannette, sons Joseph Jr. (FL), David (CT), and Paul (RI), and by daughters Sharon (NH), Laurie (RI), and Deborah (MA); 24 grandchildren; 30 great-grandchildren, and one great-great granddaughter. He was pre-deceased by a son, Lloyd, and a daughter, Janice.