June 19, 1927 — September 6, 2019
Beloved husband, father and grandfather Earl Eugene Brown, 92, died Sept. 6, 2019, at Parkview at Wheatland Village in Walla Walla, Wash.
A memorial service will be held Sunday, Sept. 15, at 2 p.m. at Christ the King Lutheran Church, 325 S.W. Sixth Ave., Milton-Freewater, Ore. Viewing will be Saturday, Sept. 14, between 3 and 6 p.m. at Munselle Rhodes Funeral Home, 902 S. Main St., Milton-Freewater.
Earl was born in Hugo, Ore., June 19, 1927, the sixth of seven children, to Lawrence and Ellen (Markley) Brown. He lived with his parents until he was 12 years old, and then moved to Colorado briefly to live with his eldest sister, LeNora Richards. He attended Delta, Grand Junction, Grants Pass and Kerby high schools, and earned his high school diploma after attending night school at Multnomah College in Portland, Ore. As a young man, Earl enjoyed running and held a high school state record for the mile run.
He graduated from Oregon State College (now University) in 1950 with a bachelor of science degree in entomology, and married the love of his life, Lorraine (Lorenzen) Brown, on Nov. 4, 1950, in Pendleton, Ore. Lorraine and “Gene,” as she and his siblings lovingly called him, would have been married 69 years this November.
Earl worked as a research entomologist for Oregon State University, as an agricultural extension agent and in the fruit industry in Milton-Freewater for many years. During this time he started the bee integration program in the Walla Walla Valley, for which he was honored by the state of Oregon as Outstanding Young Man. He also was instrumental in helping restore fruit production in the Milton-Freewater area after the devastating freeze in 1955.
Earl and Lorraine have four children: a daughter, Nancy Kezele, and sons Ron, Leonard, and Bob Brown. In 1977, the family founded Earl Brown and Sons Growing and Fruit Packing Company in Milton-Freewater, which continues to flourish today.
Earl and Lorraine were honored to be among the founders and charter members of Christ the King Lutheran Church in Milton-Freewater in 1960, and their Christian faith and work in the church have always been an essential part of their family life.
Over the years, Earl was active in the community, serving on school boards and helping found a Jaycee chapter. He earned many awards, including the Milton-Freewater Chamber of Commerce Agriculture Man of the Year in 1982.
Earl and Lorraine enjoyed traveling with friends in their RVs, and on cruises and bus tours across the country. Earl also liked to fish and hunt pheasants, but his passion was working in the orchards with his family and his neighbors.
Earl’s philosophy was, if you can’t help out your neighbors, there’s no reason to be on this Earth. His official retirement from the family company did not stop him from working every day as long as he was able. He especially enjoyed working alongside his grandchildren in the orchards and tree fruit nurseries. Many lessons were learned during those work hours with grandpa, and the grandkids all have good stories to tell about their time with him.
Earl is survived by his wife, Lorraine, in Walla Walla; a daughter, Nancy (Larry) Kezele; sons Ron (Gretchen) Brown, Leonard (Leslie) Brown and Bob (Lana) Brown, all of Milton-Freewater; nine grandchildren: Eric (Becca) Brown of Tacoma, Wash., Dan Kezele of Milton-Freewater, Jared (Jamie) Brown of Milton-Freewater, Jenny Kezele of College Place, Wash., Andrew (Stephanie) Brown of Milton-Freewater, Celeste (Chad) Buchaklian of Waterford, Wis., Marcus (JoJo) Brown of Redwood City, Calif., Stephanie Brown of Visalia, Calif., and Chris Brown of Milton-Freewater; and 12 great-grandchildren. He also is survived by his brother and sister-in-law, Edwin and Betty Brown of Walla Walla, and many nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents; sisters LeNora Richards, Maxine Rogers and Bertha Brown; and brothers Lee and Carroll Brown.
The family requests in lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Christ the King Lutheran Church; the Blue Mountain Community Foundation — Attn: Milton-Freewater Athena-Weston (MFAW) Fund; or Walla Walla Community Hospice.
To leave a condolence online, visit www.munsellerhodes.com.