James L. Brown Jr. of Huntington Station was a man family and friends could always count on.
"Dad leaves a legacy of love for family and community," said his eldest child, daughter LaJoyce Brown-Lewis of Atlanta. "He always stressed to us the value of family and having a sense of community and being concerned about someone else."
A hardworking father of three and devoted family man, he spent a life volunteering to do community service and using his expertise in auto mechanics to fix friends’ cars. But he still found time to pursue a favorite pastime, cooking, and delighted those he cared about with his signature dishes of banana pudding and sweet potato pie.
Brown, 82, had a stroke in late December, was moved to a rehabilitation facility in Glen Cove in late January and died on Feb 7.
"He was very devoted to me and took good care of us," said his wife of 61 years, Naomi C. Brown.
Brown retired in 1997 from Tuscan Dairy in Jamaica, Queens, after more than 30 years of service, his family said. He started as a mechanic and retired as a diesel mechanic supervisor.
Brown’s community service commitment included being a longtime member of the Evergreen Baptist Church in Huntington, attaining NAACP Diamond Life membership and serving as a community activist and a member of the Gateway Community Garden.
His family said he lived an abundant life and served as confidant and trusted mentor to many. After retirement, he enjoyed watching MSNBC, Westerns and family television.
He received a heart transplant in 2003, but that didn’t slow him down.
"We are especially grateful that God allowed him to see the births, graduations, weddings and a host of other milestones," Brown-Lewis said. "We are sad but grateful."
James LaVon Brown Jr. was born on July 18, 1938, in Belleville, Alabama, to James L. Brown Sr. and Wynona Fountain as the second of seven children.
He joined the Belleville Baptist Church as a young person and supported it faithfully throughout his life, his family said.
Brown went through the Conecuh County School District in Evergreen, Alabama, graduating in 1958 from the Conecuh County Training School. He married Naomi Cunningham on Sept. 26, 1959, and settled in Huntington Station.
"I always knew him to be a very kind and generous person," said the Rev. Larry Jennings, immediate past president of the Huntington Branch of the NAACP. "He was a man of strong faith, devoted to his family and community."
Besides his wife and daughter, Brown is survived by sons Brian L. Brown of Mount Vernon and Darren L. Brown of Westminster, Maryland; three sisters, Mildred Cunningham of Miami, Deborah Brown of Homestead, Florida, and Ronzie Faye Watson of Belleville, Alabama; a brother, Dwight Brown of Moss Point, Mississippi; and seven grandchildren.
There will be a visitation at M.A. Connell Funeral Home, 934 New York Ave. in Huntington Station, on Wednesday between 5 and 8 p.m. with a service at 7 p.m. A public viewing, service and burial will take place later in Evergreen and Belleville, Alabama.