Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

An old fashioned gentleman laid to rest

May 05, 2011

Howard Brown died in his sleep last week.

Mr. Brown, as most people called him out of respect, was president of United Communications Corporation, the parent company of the Kenosha News and the Lake Geneva Regional News.

The name may not be familiar to many of our readers. He lived in Kenosha and his main connection to the Lake Geneva area is that the corporation he headed owns our paper. But he is known throughout the Midwest as the paternal spirit of one of the few family-owned newspapers remaining.

Most importantly, though, is that he’d be worth writing about simply because he was an uncommon common man. Down-to-earth and self-effacing as only a great man can be.

Howard was 87 when he died and, until a few weeks ago, came to work as he had for decades, in a suit and tie.

He graduated magna cum laude from Princeton. He saw action during World War II, and traveled the world as a foreign correspondent for the Chicago Sun Times. He was also known for his community involvement and generosity. But he was probably most proud of his tennis game.

Every once in awhile I’d receive a note from Howard transcribed on a typewriter by his secretary, Arleen. He wrote like he talked, using a prose style that was carefully thought out, full of gracious mannerisms and finished off with one of Howard’s life-affirming maxims. It was the type of note our mothers taught us to write.

He was unremittingly courteous, upbeat, and thoughtful. I attended regular management meetings with Howard and except for the obvious gravitas he brought, you barely knew he was there. Howard was that rare man — he spoke when he had something to say. If he disagreed with someone, which he rarely did, Howard would be so gracious it sounded more like a compliment.

Howard closed a meeting a few weeks ago by telling everyone that he had a terminal disease. He made a few jokes and then issued what he called his first order in 40 years.

“Enjoy life,” he said.

I immediately recalled a quote I’d heard in a movie.

“He was the kind of man boys dream of becoming, and old men wish they’d been.”

Our corner of the world is a lesser place without him.

Halverson is the general manager of the Regional News.