Edward Thomas Brown never got to march as grand marshal in Garden City’s Memorial Day Parade, but he’s remembered as a local American patriot nonetheless.
The spirited and jovial Brown broke a hip the Friday before he was to march in the 2015 event down Franklin Avenue.
Then, in 2016, after a yearlong recovery, he was named grand marshal once again, ready to celebrate with the residents of his village.
Except the parade was rained out. (He was honored at an indoor celebration that day).
Brown, a World War II Army veteran who made a career as a big firm real estate attorney in Manhattan, died at NYU Winthrop Hospital in Mineola on June 15 of complications from pneumonia. He was 95 years old.
He and his wife, Marjorie, were married for 70 years, raising three children in the Garden City house they purchased in 1956.
Through the years, Brown was an active participant in the community, particularly in the family’s Catholic parish, the Church of St. Joseph, where he was a past president of the St. Joseph’s Holy Name Society and a past vice president of the St. Joseph’s Confraternity of Christian Doctrine.
“He was the guy who picked you up. You could be in the lowest of moods but he made everybody feel good, and you knew he was always going to include you,” said his son, Martin Brown, 60, an English teacher who lives in Malverne. “He was staunch in his principles and he had strong beliefs — strong Catholic views — but he could state his opinion without diminishing the other person’s personhood.”
He was politically conservative, yet embraced diversity and taught inclusion. He read every newspaper and loved his country with respect for other people’s opinions, according to family members.
“He was a true American who believed that the voice of every person was important,” Martin Brown said. “He was an old-fashioned patriot.”
Edward Brown was born on Dec. 4, 1921, one of two sons born to Martin J. Brown, former chief inspector of the NYPD, and Ella L. O’Brien. He was born in Elmhurst and raised in College Point, Queens. When he was 15, his brother, Martin, died of diabetes-related complications.
Brown was the first in his family to go to college, and he graduated early from Fordham University in the Bronx in 1943. He enlisted in the Army and was based in Hawaii during World War II.
He returned in 1947 and went on to Georgetown Law School. He was admitted to the New York Bar Association in 1948 and was a practicing attorney until he was 80 years old. His career included law firms like Watters and Donovan, where he was a junior partner under the late James Britt Donovan, famous for negotiating the ransom of prisoners taken by Cuba during the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion. After his time with the law firms, he worked in the law department at the Nassau County Supreme Court for 25 years.
Brown remained connected to his alma mater while also serving the Garden City community. In the 1960s, he started the Fordham University Club of Long Island. He later became president of the national Fordham Alumni Club. Brown also served on the Alumni Senate of Georgetown Law School.
His past leadership roles included being district captain of the Garden City Community Fund, vice president of the Garden City Assembly and board member of the Leukemia Society of Nassau County. He was also involved in the American Legion Post 1089.
Brown’s other survivors include another son, Edward Brown Jr. of Bedford, Massachusetts, and a daughter, Margot Brown-Ronin of upstate Valhalla; nine grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
His funeral Mass was offered at St. Joseph Church in Garden City on June 19. The family requests donations in his memory be made to Fordham University, Georgetown Law School or Kellenberg Memorial High School.