Charles D. Brown, an elected justice in the Village of Asharoken for about 30 years, died of cancer Monday at his longtime home. He was 83.
He earned his bachelor's degree in history from New York University in 1949 and graduated from the university's law school in 1952, the year he passed the state bar exam.
Brown served in the U.S. Army from 1952 to '54, during the Korean War. He stayed stateside in the medical corps.
When he was 13, he met 6-year-old Martha Spindler at her Scarsdale house. He was good friends with her older brother and often played tennis with him at the club next door. Brown and Martha were married in 1963.
"He said he first remembered me 'with no front teeth,' " she said, sitting in the Asharoken home they shared for 46 years.
After they married, the Browns lived in a one-room apartment in Greenwich Village in Manhattan for three years. They moved to Asharoken in 1966, and Brown became involved in village government. He served on the zoning board of appeals, the environmental board and was a trustee.
He became the village justice in 1980. He worked at Thacher Proffitt & Wood in Manhattan from 1954 until it merged in 2008 with SNR Denton, serving most of the time as a partner. He was of counsel at SNR Denton when he died.
On Sept. 11, 2001, Brown was in the firm's offices in the south tower of the World Trade Center when it was hit in the terrorist attack. He ran down about 30 flights to safety and for hours, his family didn't know his fate. When he came home, he just wanted to sit down, said his wife. He had also been in the World Trade Center during the 1993 bombing.
Martha Brown said he loved his time and service to the village. "He wanted to keep it nice."
Ray Mahdesian, Asharoken's police officer-in-charge, knew Brown for about 40 years. "He was a gentleman, a very knowledgeable attorney and jurist, and fair . . . he gave freely of his talents to his community."
Mahdesian said the police would call Brown sometimes, as early 4 a.m., and tell him they had someone in custody that would be sent to jail. He said Brown would come in before work to arraign the individual, so he or she could avoid prison time. "That's the kind of guy he was."
When asked what she will miss most about her husband, Martha Brown said "everything."
Besides his wife, he is survived by two sons, Gregory, of Northport, and William, of Manhattan. He was predeceased by his parents and brother, Alan. Services were private.