Obituary of Wade E. Brown
Please share a memory of Wade to include in a keepsake book for family and friends.
Wade Edward Brown died on March 9, 2009 at the age of 101. He was born November 5, 1907 in Blowing Rock, North Carolina, the youngest of 10 children born to Etta Sudderth and Jefferson Davis Brown. He attended Watauga County schools before going to Mars Hill Junior College to complete high school and the first two years of college. He was accepted to Wake Forest College (now Wake Forest University) and its School of Law. He had the distinction of passing the NC Bar Exam in January of 1930, a year before he graduated from the law school in 1931. He opened his law office in Boone on July 5, 1931 and began a career which spanned more than six decades. Organizations and communities across Northwest North Carolina and indeed state-wide, benefitted from his leadership. He worked on and endorsed numerous projects to improve the community and to bring people and jobs to the mountains. In 1949, he was one of three to sign the Charter to establish the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce. He worked behind the scenes to make the outdoor drama "Horn in the West" a reality, and, believing that a public golf course would bring tourist dollars (and give him a place to play his beloved game), he spearheaded the drive for the Boone Golf Club which opened in 1959. He worked for many years to help begin and later to expand the Watauga County Hospital (now Watauga Medical Center) while serving as Chairman of its Board of Trustees. After his retirement, he worked for several years as the legal advisor to the students at Appalachian State University. In 1944 at the age of 37, Mr. Brown was commissioned as an officer in the U. S. Navy. After the war, he returned to Boone to re-open his law office. A lifelong Democrat, he was elected to both the NC Senate (1947) and the House of Representatives (1951). From 1961 to 1967, he served as Mayor of Boone. He was appointed to the NC Board of Paroles in 1968 and served as its Chairman for four years. After his experiences working with the prisons, he felt that prisoners in Watauga County needed a place to worship. With the aid of many in the community who donated their talents, skills and materials, a chapel on the prison grounds became a reality in 1984 when then Governor James B. Hunt came to Boone to accept the keys to the building on behalf of the state. He traveled extensively on good will trips to Russia, China, England, Poland, Hungary, Germany and Belgium and, in 1998 at the age of 91, he joined a mission group for a working trip to the Ukraine. Wade believed strongly in education. He worked closely with his friend and mentor, Dr. B. B. Dougherty to bring state dollars to a small and under appreciated college in the mountains, now Appalachian State University. He served on the Board of Trustees at Appalachian in 1941 and 1944. Additionally, he served on numerous committees and boards that directed the development of the public schools in Watauga County. In 1993, he established the Wade E. Brown Scholarship at the Wake Forest University School of Law. He served several terms on the Board of Trustees of Wake Forest College and, on February 4, 1999, he was named a Trustee Emeritus of the University. A dedicated member of First Baptist Church, Boone since the early 1930's, Mr. Brown was active in all phases of church life. He served as a Deacon and Sunday School Superintendent in addition to serving on numerous committees from search committees for new ministers to building committees. He faithfully taught the Men's Sunday School Class for countless years. In broader Baptist circles, he served as Moderator of the Three Forks Association and as a member of the Board of the Baptist Foundation. In July of 2000, Mr. Brown presented the High Country Conservancy with a Conservation Easement on 31 acres of land atop Big Yarnall Mountain overlooking the Town of Boone insuring that the mountain would forever be "like God made it." He was justifiably proud of the many honors he received including his induction into the NC Bar Association Hall of Fame in 1992 and his receipt of the Liberty Bell Award by the Young Lawyers Division of the NC Bar Association in 1995. The Watauga County Bar Association named a scholarship in his honor, and his portrait was hung in a courtroom of the Watauga County Courthouse. In 1996, he was named a Charter Member of the Founders of the Watauga County Public Library in recognition of the part he played in the building of the new library. In 1997, he received the Alfred Adams Award for Economic Development from the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce, and, in 2000, the Chamber re-named their Community Development Award, the Wade E. Brown Award for Community Development. Mr. Brown has written two books: The Story of Golf in Boone in 1981 and Recollections and Reflections in 1997. Mr. Brown was preceded in death by his wife of 53 years, Gilma Baity Brown and by his second wife, Euzelia Smart Brown. He is survived by three children: Margaret Rose and her husband, Ray James; Wade Edward Brown, Jr. and his wife, Cheryl Moon Brown; and Sarah B. Otey and her former husband, Kirkwood Otey IV; four grandchildren: Emory Glenn Johnston, Jr., Alicia Brown Lyda, Kent Edward Brown and Katherine Kirkwood Otey; and two great-grandchildren: Grayson E. Johnston and Andrew M. Lyda. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorials to honor the life of Wade Edward Brown be made to the Wade E. Brown Scholarship at the Wake Forest School of Law, Campus Box 7206, Winston-Salem, NC 27109. The family will receive friends from 6:00 to 7:30 on Tuesday, March 10, 2009 at Austin & Barnes Funeral Home, 194 Queen Street, Boone, NC. There will be a private family graveside service at Woodlawn Cemetery in Blowing Rock, NC.