Melvin Brown, of Paw Paw
Published 8:00 am Tuesday, June 16, 2015
April 25, 1921 — June 11, 2015
Melvin D. Brown, 94, of Paw Paw, died on June 11, 2015, at Bronson Commons in Mattawan.
Mel was born in Volinia Township, Cass County, on April 25, 1921, to Frank “Pete” and Dorothy (Gray) Brown.
Mel is survived by his wife of 68 years, Lorraine (Murphy) Brown; his sister, Evalyn Fleet of Mancelona; his children, Jere (Gail) Brown of Traverse City, Kathryn (Jim Hendon) Brown of Redlands, Califonia, and Robert (Lorraine) Brown of Paw Paw; six grandchildren, John I. Marconi of Oakland, California, Lauren (Ural) Yal of Yorba Linda, California, Abigail (Daniel) Preston of Paw Paw, Philip Brown of Parker, Colorado, Adam (Emily) Brown of Mattawan and Alexa Brown of Paw Paw; and five great-grandchildren.
As a boy, Mel enjoyed 4-H, fishing, hunting and listening to Cubs games broadcast on WGN radio. He was very ambitious and once earned a three-day, all expenses paid trip by train to the World’s Fair of 1933 in Chicago for selling newspaper subscriptions.
Mel was fascinated by flying and was inspired by reading. At age 8, a 1927 edition of “We” by Charles Lindbergh telling the story of his flight from New York to Paris in the “Spirit of St. Louis.” He spent many hours building model airplanes and operating his homemade radio in a workshop he built behind his parents’ home.
After graduating in 1938 from Dowagiac High School, he attended Cass County Normal. In 1939, he became the youngest person to earn a teaching certificate in the State of Michigan and taught for two years at the one-room Crane school in Volinia Township, earning $60 a month.
Mel enlisted in the Navy in June of 1942, and served as a pilot flying the PBM Martin Mariner seaplane in the Pacific Theater in World War II. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and Air Medal by the Secretary of the Navy.
Mel and Lorraine were married on Aug. 31, 1946.
Mel was a 1948 graduate of Michigan State College, where he was a member of Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society and earned a Master’s Degree in Forestry and Wood Technology in 1949.
He loved being in the woods and his first job was as a lumber buyer in the upper peninsula of Michigan. Mel liked hunting for morel mushrooms and sharing his knowledge of trees with others.
He remained a loyal Spartan sports fan all of his life.
Mel helped start up Eliason Corporation (formerly located in Hartford and Lawrence) in 1954, where he worked for 25 years as sales manager for the manufacturer of the walk-in coolers and “Easy-Swing” doors used in restaurants and grocery stores. He especially enjoyed working with numbers and statistics and in later years enjoyed keeping track of investments on his computer.
In the early 60s, Mel served as the mayor of Lawrence and, with his passion for golf, was among the original group of investors who constructed Lake Cora Hills Golf Club on Red Arrow Highway near Paw Paw. In 1979 he became President of Lake Cora Hills, which he managed until his retirement in 1989.
In retirement, Mel and Lorraine enjoyed their winter home in Leesburg, Florida, as well as their family home on Eagle Lake, in Paw Paw Township. Mel pursued his interest in genealogy and wrote and published his autobiography and family history for his family and friends “So all of us can be reminded of where we came from and how we got there …our trials and tribulations, our successes and failures.”
Friends are invited to visit with the family on Thursday, June 18, from 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. at the Adams Funeral Home, 502 W. Michigan Ave., Paw Paw, MI. Funeral services will be held Friday, June 19, at 11 a.m. at First Presbyterian Church, 120 Pine St., Paw Paw, with Rev. Dr. Rebecca Crise officiating. Burial with military honors will commence at 3 p.m. at Riverside Cemetery, in Dowagiac. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to: the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Paw Paw or to the Lawrence Schools Alumni Association.