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Tom Brown II

August 21, 1934 – March 30, 2023

Rev. Tom Brown II, Retired Elder of the Michigan Conference, died on March 30, 2023.  Funeral arrangements are in the care of Cole Funeral Chapel.

Tom Brown II of Chelsea, Michigan, formerly of Albion, age 88, died suddenly Thursday, March 30, 2023 at Chelsea Retirement Community (CRC) Dancy Hall Independent Living. He was born August 21, 1934 in Oak Park, Illinois, the son of Tom Brown and Margaret (Nehls) Brown.

Tom attended East Detroit public schools, graduating from East Detroit High School in 1952. He was very active in Boy Scouts, attended an International Jamboree, and was a Sea Scout, where his love for sailing began. He graduated with a BA from Albion College, Albion, MI in 1956 with majors in English and History.

After meeting her in the Albion College Choir, Tom married his college sweetheart, Patricia Louise Sanford on August 27, 1955 in Lansing, MI. They honeymooned in Paradise, Michigan. Tom celebrated their love every month on the 27th with an original poem, a flower, a song, a dance around the living room, etc. After Tom finished his Albion College degree, they moved to Boston, MA so he could earn his Masters of Divinity from Boston University School of Theology and Harvard Theological School, graduating in 1959. There he met and studied with Martin Luther King, Jr. under professor Rev. Dr. Howard Thurman. Throughout their lives, Tom and Pat read, celebrated, and quoted Dr. King and Dr. Thurman.

Tom pastored his first church starting in 1957 in Malden, MA at Faulkner Methodist Church while obtaining his master’s degree. He was ordained as an Elder in the Detroit Conference of the United Methodist Church in Michigan in 1959. He was a pastor for churches in Dearborn: First (assoc) 1959; St. Clair Shores: Good Shepherd 1960; River Rouge: Epworth 1965; Iron Mountain: Trinity 1968; Roseville 1973; Hemlock, Nelson 1978; Warren: Wesley 1984; Flint: Oak Park 1986; Burton: Emmanuel 1992; and retired in 1997 to Albion, MI after 40 years of service.

He was a Director of Communications for the Detroit Conference of the United Methodist Church, member of the National Fellowship of Worship Artists (previously FUMWMA), NAACP, Flint Council of Churches, and the General Commission on Religion and Race. He walked in the June 23, 1963 Martin Luther King, Jr. “The Walk to Freedom” on Woodward Ave, Detroit, Michigan that passed Central UMC going to Cobo Arena. The whole family attended the 1968 memorial celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life in Detroit, Michigan.

The family created their own hidden forest paradise in Boyne Falls for about 30 years where they built a rustic cabin and enjoyed nature, singing around the campfire, hiking, berry patches for making jam, tree houses, swimming, sailing, skiing, snowshoeing, games, reading, but mostly, peace and quiet. Tom and kids built a wood and canvas sailing rig for a wood Old Town canoe they sailed regularly on Lake Louise. Tom and Pat led the Michigamme Methodist Church Family Camp as the charter lead family in 1968 and continued through 1974. Other UMC camps the family attended were Lake Huron, Lake Louise, Judson Collins, and more.

Music was a central theme for the entire family. Tom was a member of several community choirs, along with Pat, including the Midland Music Society Chorale, the Madrigal Chorale of Southfield, and the Albion College Concert Choir (2000-2004). After Pat’s sudden death in 2018, and to support more student musicians, the family established the Sanford-Brown Family Music Scholarship at Albion College. Tom was an active leader and supporter of the Dort-Oak Park Neighborhood House in Flint. He created, founded, organized, and managed the Neighborhood Health Visitors Program in both Flint and Albion which continue to be active.

After Tom and Pat retired (“came home”) to Albion, Tom was a member of Albion Health and Wellness Action Team (HWAT), Albion First United Methodist Church, Albion Area Lifelong Learners (AALL), and continued to be active with Albion College Alumni, Boston University Alumni, and TKE Omicron Chapter Alumni.

In summers, Tom and Pat hiked extensively in Alberta, British Columbia, Yukon Territory of Canada, and in Alaska (via car) from 1985-2001. They loved canoeing at Patricia Lake, in Jasper, Alberta, and staying in the Patricia Lake Bungalows. Banff and the Canadian/US Rocky Mountains were other favorites. Tom continued his love of sailing in Seward, Alaska chartering an aluminum sailboat. They also enjoyed wintering in Naples, Florida for 20+ years. In 2017, Tom and Pat moved to the Chelsea Retirement Community Independent Living in Chelsea, MI where they were welcomed by many friends they had known most of their lives.

Tom participated actively in Diversity+, Church and Society, One World One Family, the CRC Chapel Choir, Church support activities, exercise classes, swimming and many social events. He greatly enjoyed a recent trip to Albion to stay in the family house and attend the March 17-18, 2023 National Intercollegiate Tenor-Bass Choruses Conference coordinated by Director Dr. Clayton Parr at Albion College. He also enjoyed special gatherings and dinners with many interdenominational pastors and spouses also living at CRC.

Tom was a joyous, perceptive, caring, sharing and creative person, a wonderful husband to Pat, father to their children, grandfather and “Great” grandfather to all his kiddos. Everyone he met was a friend or “cousin”. He especially liked to share a favorite comic strip or applicable newspaper article with family and friends. It was one of the many ways he showed his interest in and consideration for others.

Tom is survived by his brother Jerry Brown (Diane Tite) of Tavaras, FL; three children: Steven (Melody Snow-) Brown of Albion, MI; Peter (Lori) Stephens-Brown of Skandia, MI; Mary Lenardson of Albion, MI; 3 grandchildren: Luther (Cassie) Snow, Lara Stephens-Brown (Too Abramson), and Julie (Barry) Brannan; 4 great-grandchildren: Christian, Abigail, Brooke, and Reese; Nieces Kelee Brown (Cathy Retherford), and Megan Paradis; and special first cousins Joanne (Brown) Wilson and Nancy Hornfisher. Preceding him were his wife Patricia in 2018, and grandson Noah Stephens-Brown in 2022.

A family visitation time will be held in Albion on Saturday, June 10, 2023 at 1 p.m. followed by a memorial service at 3 p.m. at Albion First United Methodist Church Tennant Hall. A second memorial service will be held in Chelsea on Sunday, June 11, 2023 at 1 p.m. at Chelsea Retirement Community Chapel followed by a reception in Dancy Hall.

Contributions in his memory may be made to the Sanford-Brown Music Scholarship Fund at Albion College (611 E. Porter St., Albion, Michigan 49224), or the UMC Michigan Conference Church Camps, or the United Methodist Retirement Communities Foundation (805 W. Middle St, Chelsea, MI 48118).

*Brown, Tom, II – [(RE) T 1957; F 1959] Dearborn: First (assoc) 1959; St. Clair Shores: Good Shepherd 1960; River Rouge: Epworth 1965; Iron Mountain: Trinity 1968; Roseville 1973; Hemlock, Nelson 1978; Warren: Wesley 1984; Flint: Oak Park 12/1/1986; Burton: Emmanuel 1992; Retired 1997.

Last Updated on April 24, 2023

The Michigan Conference