Recalled as kind, modest
by Leland Debusk, Assistant Editor
From Hood County News On-Line Edition dated 5 May 1999
“He was just a wonderful boss,” former commissioners’ secretary Sue Loftin
said of former county commissioner Joe Brown.
Brown, 72, of Lipan, died early Monday morning at a Fort Worth hospital. He had just undergone emergency surgery for an aneurysm, said family friends.
“He was funny and he was kind,” Loftin stated. “He treated everybody fairly.
He was a very fine man and we will miss him.”
Brown was precinct 1 commissioner for 16 years before retiring in December 1992. Lipan was included in his precinct.
Like his name, Brown was modest and unassuming. “Joe didn’t talk much,” said former commissioner David Cleveland. “When he did talk, I learned to listen because he knew what he was talking about.”
Cleveland recalled Brown as being conservative with county money, but
generous with his time. Whenever a fellow commissioner had a problem, he was available to sit down and discuss the problem, Cleveland said. “He was awfully good to me when I first became commissioner. Joe was a good friend. We’ll sure miss him.”
“He was a dependable fellow,” said former commissioner Bud Gifford. “When he said he’d back you in something, he’d back you. He was really conservative. He wanted the best for those people in precinct 1. He was just a solid all-around fellow. That’s all there was to it.”
“He knew his precinct like the back of his hand,” county auditor Larry Levine said of Brown. “He was solid and stable. I really missed him on the court. He was a big plus on the court.”
Brown worked as a county employee before being elected as commissioner in 1976. He was the first commissioner in the county to have all his precinct roads paved, Cleveland stated.
The widening of Lipan Highway between Granbury and Lipan ranked as one of the highlights of Brown’s career. He saved money in his precinct for years to finance the $200,000 right-of-way costs for the project.
Prior to its widening, Lipan Highway was a narrow, snaky road that was the scene of many major accidents. Now the highway is straighter, wider and much safer, officials say.
Brown was responsible too for widening the then-narrow Contrary Creek Road from State Highway 144 South to Indian Harbor.
When Brown was elected commissioner, there were two employees in precinct 1. “And I was one of them,” he said in a December 1992 interview. When he retired, there were four employees under him.
Precinct 1 was pretty austere when Brown took over. “We had a lot leased across from the funeral home in Lipan,” he stated. “We had an old dump truck turned bottom side up to keep our stuff under.” Brown eventually saved enough money to build the precinct “a pretty nice barn.”
Brown said he managed to please most, but not all, of his constituents.
“Naturally, you can sit some people up on a stool and feed `em ice cream, and they would fuss about the flavor,” he joked in 1992. “But I done the best I could.”
In 1992, Cleveland told the story of an asphalt salesman who got on Brown’s bad side. The county had been dealing with the man for years, but one year when the market price of asphalt went down, the salesman refused to lower his price. However, the next year, when the price went up, the salesman raised his price accordingly, said Cleveland. That made Brown mad, Cleveland stated, adding Brown told fellow commissioners that he was going to have a talk with that man.
One day, Brown cornered the salesman in the commissioners’ offices. “No one knows what Joe said,” Cleveland recalled, but it apparently impressed the salesman. “For two years, he would not come to Hood County,” Cleveland said. “He’s still afraid of Joe.” The salesman wouldn’t even come in the office if he thought Brown was there, Cleveland laughed. The salesman never gave the county any problems about asphalt prices since that episode, Cleveland pointed out.
“He’s pretty hard to make mad,” Gifford said of Brown in 1992. “One thing
about Joe is when you make him mad, he’s mad all over.”
There was also the man who made the mistake about bad-mouthing Brown’s road crew and making rude comments to then-commissioners’ secretary Sue Loftin, Cleveland recalled. Brown had a talk with him and straightened him out, Cleveland stated. “My experience with Mr. Brown was a life-changing experience,” the man later told others, Cleveland said.
The modest Brown didn’t even want a retirement reception when he retired,
fellow officials said. Instead, county officials presented him with a service plaque at the county Christmas party.
Brown was born in West Texas and moved to Lipan when he was about 4. He was reared on a farm. Brown operated a Lipan service station for several years and was a real “working cowboy” for about 18 years on the famous Black Ranch between Granbury and Lipan.
Brown was also a Lipan volunteer fireman and assisted the sick and injured
in ambulance trips to hospitals.
Brown’s philosophy as county commissioner was the same as Joe Brown, the man. “I always said I wanted to treat people like I wanted to be treated,”
he stated in 1992. “And if I told a feller something, I’d try to stand up to it.”
Brown also served on the hospital board for 16 years before retiring in 1992. He served too on the Lipan City Council and was an avid supporter of the Hood County Livestock Association and 4-H and FFA. Brown was a member of the First Baptist Church of Lipan.
Brown is survived by his wife of 52 years, Ada Mae Brown; one daughter and son-in-law, JoAnna and Mike Stowe of Lipan; and two grandchildren, Todd Tuggle and wife Jennifer of Lipan and Jodi Overton and husband Duane of Palo Pinto. Brown is also survived by a sister, Lipan resident Mary Ada Bybee.
Brown was preceded in death by his parents, Joe and Myrtle Brown; and two brothers, Edward and Top.
Services are tomorrow (Thursday) at 2 p.m. at First Baptist Church in Lipan.
Burial will be in Allison Cemetery.