NASHUA, N.H. – Roger W. Brown, 86, of Nashua, N.H., formerly of Alvin, passed away peacefully on Saturday, March 19, 2016.
He was born on May 23, 1929, in Danville. Roger was the son of the late Hoyt and Florence (Cole) Brown, who operated Browns Grocery for 37 years until 1953.
Roger was a baseball pitcher and he signed a professional baseball contract with the Brooklyn Dodgers at the young age of 15, after his sophomore year at Alvin High School, May of 1945. He played for various farm teams in the MLB. Roger was and still is the youngest to ever sign with the Dodgers. His uniform can be seen at the Rossville Historical Society.
Roger graduated from Alvin High School in 1947, which was the next to last graduating class before consolidating with Rossville. He then attended Illinois State for two years, transferring to and graduating from the University of Illinois with a B.S. degree in business.
Upon graduating from college, he joined the U.S. Air Force and served as an auditor with the rank of first lieutenant. Roger was later discharged on hardship after the loss of his first wife and 4-month-old son in a train-auto accident while he was stationed in Arabia.
Roger left Illinois for California in early 1954 to start a career in aerospace and electronics. It was then that he was fortunate enough to work with NASA and meet Neil Armstrong, John Glenn, Alan Shepard and Gus Grissom.
At the age of 38, he was promoted to group vice president of industrial relations for General Dynamics, Chicago. Roger left General Dynamics to become vice president of personnel for AMTRAK in Washington, D.C.
After seven years with AMTRAK, he left to become corporate vice president of human resources at the Sanders Division of Lockheed Martin in Nashua, N.H. While at Sanders, Roger completed his master's degree in business at New Hampshire College. He started work on the degree at Harvard University some seven years earlier.
He then joined the part-time faculty at New Hampshire College Graduate School teaching part-time for 17 years. Roger retired in 1991.
Roger's notable work ethic never kept him from coming home to his roots in Alvin and traveling with his wife of 32 years, Mary (Fennell) Brown. Roger and Mary traveled through Europe, South America and spent their winters in Naples, Fla. Roger's hobbies of golf, fishing and hunting kept him in close contact with many friends. He truly loved bringing Mary and his son Roger (Bud) to visit his second family, Robert and Mary Ingram and family of Rossville.
Roger thoroughly enjoyed taking his son hunting the prairie of Illinois where he grew up. The Ingram children will cherish his memories of walking them on the ceilings and the stories of the Alvin tornado and mapping out all the businesses once lining the streets of Alvin.
Roger was a member of the Rossville American Legion No. 733 and was a 32nd Degree Mason at the Hoopeston Star Lodge No. 709.
Roger is survived by his wife of 32 years, Mary (Fennell) Brown; his son, Roger W. Brown II from his second wife, Iris Dirks Brown; four grandchildren, Lindsay (Ronald "Zippy") Roberts of Arizona, Trevor Chapman of Oklahoma, and Ryan and Tyler Brown of Nashua; as well as four great-grandchildren.
He was predeceased by his first wife, Audrey Watkins Brown and son Jeffery; his second wife, Iris Dirks Brown; and his daughter, Susan (Brown) Chapman.
A celebration of Roger's life will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, April 16, at the Rossville United Methodist Church, 116 Maple St., Rossville, where he was a member. Pastor Carl Mesiti will officiate the service. Graveside rites with military services will be immediately following the celebration at the Rossville Cemetery in Rossville.
The family requests that in lieu of other expressions of sympathy, a memorial donation be made in his name to Homer Carter Park of Alvin, P.O. Box 169, Alvin, IL 61811, or the Rossville American Legion, P.O. Box 194, Rossville, IL 60963.