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Richard Brown

Published: Monday, May 6, 2013 at 3:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, May 6, 2013 at 9:25 p.m.

Elizabeth Brown never imagined a fender bender would be the start of a love story. But when a CHP officer named Richard Brown responded to the call, the story began.

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Richard Brown

He asked her to coffee, and few months later they were married.

Brown died after a battle with health problems on May 1. He was 85 and they had been married 48 years.

“He was such a kind and considerate man,” his wife said. “He was loved by many.”

Brown was born Nov. 12, 1927, to Leroy and Mary Brown in Rhode Island. His mother raised Brown and his four brothers while his father worked as a boat engineer.

When Brown was 16, the family moved to San Francisco, where he graduated from high school. During World War II, Brown's oldest brother died in the battle of Iwo Jima in early 1945.

Brown enlisted in the Navy a few months later. He spent eight years in the Navy, many of them working as a fireman on the USS Robert K. Huntington, a destroyer. He was discharged honorably in 1954.

Brown attended UC Davis, where he received a degree in agriculture in 1949. Following his graduation, he went to the CHP academy and served as a CHP officer for 27 years.

“He was good, honest and reliable,” said Art Koenig, who worked with Brown in the CHP for 20 years. “He was a wonderful person.”

After meeting during a traffic accident call in Sonoma, Brown married Elizabeth, then a widow with two children, in 1964. The couple had a child, Patricia, together the following year. Their son Richard followed in 1972.

Brown retired from the CHP in 1982 but stayed in touch with many of his friends through weekly coffee meetings at Coco's Bakery Restaurant in Santa Rosa. Brown avidly pursued many hobbies in retirement, including walking his dogs and reading.

“He never went anywhere without a book in his hand, said his wife. “He also loved hunting and fishing.”

Gardening was also a favored activity and Koenig remembered the tall fences he had installed to prevent sheep from eating the vegetables in the garden he kept on his property.

“He liked to travel and we went to Europe five times,” said his wife. “We also went on cruises to Alaska and Mexico, and enjoyed his brother's vacation home in Laguna Beach.”

Brown was also an active volunteer with the St. Vincent de Paul Food Bank. During the last few years of his life, Brown battled health problems and complications from diabetes.

“He was a good person,” Koenig said. “He was the kind of person that made you think 'it's really too bad we don't have as many like that on earth.'”

Brown is survived by his wife, Elizabeth Brown, of Santa Rosa, children Susan Gonsalves of Santa Rosa, Cynthia Deveau of Sebastopol, Patricia Kral of Windsor and Richard Brown of Rohnert Park. He also is survived by his brother Alan Brown of Chicago, several nieces and nephews and four grandchildren.

A funeral Mass will be celebrated on Friday at 10:30 a.m. at St. Rose Catholic Church on 398 Tenth St. Private internment will follow at the Calvary Catholic Cemetery in Santa Rosa. Donations in Brown's memory can be made to Memorial Hospice of Santa Rosa.

— Melody Karpinski

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