Paul Brown is remembered by friends and family as someone who helped others, someone who cared about the community at large, and someone who served the public, especially those at the edges of society, with a heart of gold and a will of iron. No more poignant or beautiful tribute to a man is there than that his children grow into fine and upstanding citizens themselves. Paul clearly loved his children and they loved him back. They spoke warmly of him, especially of his commitment to public service and his love for their mother, Judy.
So many who knew Paul where shocked at his passing at the young age of 60. Paul played many roles in the lives of people he touched. Steve Compton remembered with fondness his classmate, Paul Brown, from Furman University; and with particular admiration, he recalled Paul’s involvement in the reconciliation movement around the Vietnam War.
Unlike World War II, Vietnam was a time in our history when we had to chose sides; Paul chose a side that is reflected in the independence and intellectual freedom embodied in the UU congregation.
Karen remembered with gratitude that he could be a very tough father. She said if any grade fell too low or any other expectation was not met, that Paul would warn her fiercely, “All right. If you don’t straighten out, I’m sending you to St. Mary’s Girls’ School.” This is as terrible a threat as we as Unitarian Universalists can imagine.
There are many standards by which we as human beings gauge the value of each other’s lives. Entirely too much of our attention is paid to celebrities, people who dance on the screens of our television sets; and have very little to do with the quality of our lives. Paul Brown was on the opposite end of that spectrum. He did not seek the limelight and yet he used the considerable clout that he accumulated over the years to take the side of prisoners, young people in foster care, the poor and the marginalized. He worked as a social worker, a group home administrator, a magistrate, and in many other public service jobs that put the work of his hands to the aid of those who needed it most.
Goodness is the most treasured quality in the human heart. Goodness is a broad word that encompasses kindness, courage, tenacity, charity, love, harmony, friendship, and every other positive attribute you might assign to a human being you consider good. Paul Brown was a good man.