Frederick Issac Brown
Published: February 12, 2013
Frederick Isaac Brown, Jr., 90, died peacefully on February 9, 2013. He was at home surrounded by his loving family, special family friend, Linda Jane Hughen and devoted caregivers. He was born January 26, 1923, in Little Rock to Josephine Miller and Frederick Isaac Brown, Sr. In addition to his parents, he was predeceased by his brother Joseph Wesley Brown and sister-in-law Virginia Thompson Brown.
Fred I., as most often referred to by friends, attended Little Rock High until January 1940, when, at age 16, he and friend Jack Trotter drove to Tucson, Arizona to enroll in the University of Arizona. While there, he was an active member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, served as a cadet in one of the last ROTC cavalries before horses ceased to be a regular part of military equipment and competed in the school’s award winning rodeos. He won the coveted Spanish award and graduated with a B.S. degree in Mathematics in 1943.
After graduating from college, Fred I. enrolled in Midshipmen’s School, serving for three years. He was commissioned an Ensign USNR in January 1944 where he volunteered for duty with the “Beach Jumpers”, commanded by Douglas Fairbanks. This unit operated under Top Secret orders to prepare for a diversionary landing on southwestern Kyushu Island, Japan. The dropping of the atom bomb changed the mission. Instead, his unit was assigned to the 43rd Sunrise Army Division in Hiroshima.
After discharge from the Navy as Communication Officer aboard the USS Alcyone, Fred I. worked as a stove tender in the Blast Furnace Division of Inland Steel in Indiana Harbor, Indiana. This experience brought him back to the realities of civilian life.
With the support of his professors at the University of Arizona, Fred I. applied and was admitted to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in September 1947, graduating with a B.S. in Metallurgy in May 1949. He often stated that his desire to study at the best had been realized and that the opportunity provided helped prepare him for a better life in the future.
It was in the summer of 1949, accompanied by his brother Joe Brown, Jay Hill, Ellen Blass and Mary Mitchell on a Brownell Tour of England, France and Italy, that he met his future bride, Mary Patricia Saer from New Orleans. They were married April 22, 1950.
Following the death of his father in 1962, Fred I. became President and CEO of AFCO Steel. AFCO Steel continued to grow under the leadership of Fred I., his brother Joe and his son Fred III. Encompassing four plant locations and over one million feet under crane, the company was recognized as one of the leading structural steel fabricators in the country. The company was sold in 2002. In 1972 Fred I. and Joe started AFCO Metals, which expanded under the leadership of his son Bobby, to seven plants in five states, including three depot operations and a trading office in Georgetown, Cayman Islands. The company was sold in 1988.
In 1960, Fred I. was appointed to the Little Rock Port Authority at its inception, becoming Chairman in 1965, a position he held until 1989. The result was the development of a 1500-acre industrial park, the building of a short line railroad and the construction of an operating river port. On January 4, 1969, the towboat “Arkansas Traveler” chugged into the port with the first two barges loaded with steel. In 1987, the Little Rock Board of Directors named the port’s slack water harbor the “Fred I. Brown, Jr. Industrial Harbor” in recognition of his dedication to the McClellan-Kerr Navigation Plan for the Arkansas River.
Beginning in 1954, Fred I. served for over 50 years as a Director of the Associated Industries of Arkansas, serving as President and Chairman in 1967 and 1968 respectively. He was the Arkansas Director of the National Association of Manufacturers from 1972 - 1976.
Fred I. was also active in the banking community during his lifetime. He served on the Board of the Union National Bank from 1956 until 1969. He was elected to the Board of Commercial National Bank until its merger with First National Bank. In 1984 he was elected to the Board of Worthen Banking Corporation, serving through its ultimately successful acquisition by Bank of America in 1995. Fred I. was also a Director of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis from 1972 – 1978.
As a proud native of Little Rock, Fred I. shared his time and knowledge with several community Boards. For 25 years, he was a Board member of the Little Rock Boys Club, including two years as President. In addition, he served as Co-chairman of the campaign committee to build the current Catholic High School for Boys; charter member and President of the Little Rock Serra Club; President of the Holy Souls Men’s Club; Director of the Pulaski County Chapter of the American Red Cross; Chairman of St. Vincent Infirmary Council; Capital Campaign Co-Chairman of the Arkansas Arts Center; and President of the Arkansas Advisory Council of Winrock International.
A lifelong Catholic, Fred I. was a member of the Cathedral of St. Andrew. He was a member of the Country Club of Little Rock, The Boston Club of New Orleans, and elected to XV as No. 14 in 1968, and a member of the Old Goats Club in Little Rock.
True to his love of the Arkansas River, Fred I. and his friends Bill Tedford and Robert Bowdie set a time record for the 420 mile distance race between the first and last locks on the Arkansas River. Wearing motorcycle crash helmets in a 16-foot fiberglass boat named the Robert E. Lee IV, the friends were equipped with two airplane landing lights to see through the fog as they rocketed to the finish.
Fred I. inherited his love of the garden from his mother. He was a master gardener of hybrid tea roses. His activities included golf, tennis, skiing, fly-fishing and hunting. His favorite spots included duck hunting at Dog Island Club on Bayou Meto, turkey hunting at Corona Club on the Mississippi River, or fly fishing at Cebolla River Ranches and Lake Fork Club in Colorado with family and friends. Many afternoons Fred I. could be found at the backgammon table in the Men’s grill with a cold Budweiser in hand. He was quick with a smile, quick with his wit and thoughtful in response to any question. He was protective and loving of his family, and demanded the best effort and highest standard in ethics, behavior and morality. He cherished his close friends, enjoyed the intellect of conversation and firmly defended his opinions and beliefs.
He is survived by his beloved wife of 62 years, Patricia Saer Brown, five children and ten grandchildren. His children are Frederick Isaac Brown III (Jane) of Little Rock, Robert Saer Brown (Kathleen) of Little Rock, Thomas McQueen Brown, Rogers, AR, Mary Patricia Brown Fowler (Jim) of Little Rock, and Carolyn Louise Brown O’Rourke (Jack) of Potomac, Maryland. Grandchildren are Angela Claire Brown, Arabella Grier Brown, Anne Brandon Brown, Robert Saer Brown, Jr., William Isaac Brown, Elizabeth Riggs Brown, Thomas Hunter Brown, Katherine Bailey Brown, John Thomas O’Rourke, Jr. and Josephine Louise O’Rourke. He is also survived by step-grandchildren Travis James Fowler (Sarah) and Kevin Michael Fowler and step-great-grandchild, Harrison Hays Fowler all of Little Rock.
Funeral arrangements are being handled by Ruebel Funeral Home, 6313 W. Markham St., Little Rock, AR, 72205. Visitation will be held on Wednesday, February 13 from 4:30 to 7 p.m. at Tricia and Fred I.’s home, followed by a Rosary, also at the home. A Funeral Mass will be held on Thursday, February 14 at 2 p.m. at the Cathedral of St. Andrew, 617 Louisiana Street, Little Rock, AR 72201.
Memorials may be given to: Cathedral of St. Andrew, 617 Louisiana Street, Little Rock, AR 72201 or Monsignor Allen Trust and Development Fund, c/o Our Lady of the Holy Souls School, 1003 North Tyler, Little Rock, AR 72205.