"Home is the sailor, home from the sea,
And the hunter home from the hill."
On July 20, 2020, trial attorney extraordinaire Robert Alexander Brown III arrived at the Pearly Gates to argue his final case. On hand to support his claim for entry were his wife, Mary Lynn Ross Brown, who entered easily on her own merits in 2001, and a happy herd of hunting dogs eager to take to the heavenly fields with their sorely missed master.
Bob Brown was born in St. Joseph, in 1931 to Robert Alexander Brown II and Margaret Agnew Brown. He descended from a long line of noted Missouri jurists, including Missouri Supreme Court Justice Abiel Leonard of Columbia, Missouri, who served from 1855-57 after his disbarment for killing a man in a duel was revoked by the Missouri legislature; and General Odon Guitar, a Brigadier General in the Union Army during the Civil War who served two terms in the Missouri House of Representatives and practiced criminal law in Columbia. History shows that General Guitar represented 140 homicide defendants during his career and only six of those were found guilty. Apparently, good lawyering ran in Bob's genes!
Bob attended Central High School in St. Joseph for three years before enrolling in Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, where he graduated in 1949. He received his bachelor's degree from Yale University in 1953 and his juris doctorate from the University of Michigan Law School in 1956. While attending the University of Michigan, Bob met and married Mary Lynn Ross of Flint, Michigan. Their daughter, Mary Lynda Brown, was born in Flint in 1956; shortly thereafter, the family moved back to St. Joseph so Bob could take up the practice of law at Brown, Douglas & Brown, the family firm founded by his grandfather in 1924. They welcomed their youngest daughter Margaret Brown into the world in 1958 as she joined the long line of women named Margaret in the Brown family.
Bob maintained his litigation practice for more than 50 years, specializing in medical malpractice defense. He loved his work, and was known as a talented trial lawyer. In 1984, he was honored by induction into the American College of Trial Lawyers, the preeminent organization of trial lawyers in North America. He was also a member of the International Society of Barristers, which honors legal advocates of exceptional talent. In 2006, Bob earned the designation of Senior Counselor of the Missouri Bar Association for a long and distinguished career as a member of the Missouri Bar.
In addition to the law, Bob's other passions included bird hunting, golf, and international travel. He relished his many fall and winter days spent in a northwest Missouri farmer's field hunting quail with a long line of well-trained English Setter hunting dogs, and often traded legal services with farmers for the right to hunt their land. He was never an early riser unless the day called for duck hunting. On those days, he was up and out the door well before sunrise, headed to a duck blind near Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge. He also hunted the Bob Brown Conservation Area adjacent to Loess Bluff NWR, named in honor of his father who served on the Missouri Conservation Federation and the Missouri Conservation Commission for many years.
If fall and winter were for hunting, spring and summer summoned him to the golf course. A long-time member of the St. Joseph Country Club, he won the club championship in 1979 but was precluded from defending his title in 1980 by his daughter Lynda's wedding. He played into his 70s, reluctantly hanging up his clubs after a shoulder injury prevented him from playing up to his usual high standards.
After their daughters graduated from college, Bob and Mary Lynn embraced international travel, taking memorable trips to Europe, Australia, and New Zealand with their dear friends and traveling companions, Dr. Jim and Pat Marston. He kept meticulous diaries of each trip, not recording so much the sights they saw as what they ate and where. To say he "traveled on his stomach" would be an understatement!
However, Bob's favorite place to travel was to his summer home at Wismo on the shores of Lake Courte Oreilles in northwest Wisconsin. He started going to Wismo at a very early age and rarely missed a summer there. He put his talents for persuasion to good use by talking his great Aunt Elvie into hosting raucous house parties for his many friends at Wismo, where they enjoyed daily beer truck deliveries and other misadventures around the lake that continued well into adulthood (mint juleps, anyone?). Many of his lifelong friends were made at Wismo, where later generations still gather every year to share those magical shores.
Bob was an unabashedly doting grandfather to his two granddaughters, Alex and Lynden. His oldest friends would look on in astonishment as he coddled, cooed over, and delighted in their every moment -- dance recitals, horse shows, baseball games, soccer matches, graduations, etc. And he recorded them all. During a recent visit, his granddaughter Alex counted 64 framed photos of his grandchildren around the house. He loved them fiercely and was exceptionally proud of their many accomplishments. As his granddaughter Lynden wrote to him shortly before his death, "I feel blessed that you've given us all the tools and love we need to continue to succeed and flourish in our lives. I don't want you to worry about us - because of you, we will all be okay."
Left to remember the stories and tell the tales are: his two daughters, Lynda Brown Collins (Bryan) of Little Elm, Texas, and Margaret Brown Martens of Mooresville, North Carolina; two granddaughters, Margaret Alexandra Martens of Atlanta, Georgia, and Lynden Marie Martens of Austin, Texas; a sister, Margaret Armstrong of Honolulu, Hawaii; nephew, Geff Scott of San Francisco, California; niece Gretchen Scott of Saugerties, New York; and numerous cousins scattered from coast to coast.
He is also remembered fondly by his wonderful companion of the past eight years, Karen Baker of St. Joseph.
He was predeceased by: his beloved wife, Mary Lynn; and his parents, Robert A. Brown Sr. (d. 1982) and Margaret "Bubbles" Brown (d. 1990).
A Private Family Service and Public Livestream will be held at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, July 28 at Wyatt Park Christian Church.
To view public livestream visit https://www.facebook.com/Wyatt-Park-Christian-Church-204788276254876.
Services under the direction of Meierhoffer Funeral Home & Crematory.
In lieu of flowers and in restitution for the many quail he harvested over his lifetime, the family requests that any donations in Bob's memory be made to the Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation. These donations will be earmarked to support the Missouri Department of Conservation's quail projects in northwest Missouri. As Bob would say, "Flat perfect!"
Checks should be made out to "MCHF-NW Quail Project" and mailed to Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation, 330 Commerce Dr., Jefferson City, MO 65109. As published in the St. Joseph News-Press.