Saturday, August 29, 2009

Harold Cyril Brown 1897 - 1987

Harold Brown was the oldest of eleven children. He born in 1897 to Charles S. Brown and Mary Halls in a little Mormon community in southwestern Colorado. He had to assume a man’s responsibility at an early age in caring for the family farm and dairy because his father was away from home much of the time. In his mid teens the family moved to southern Arizona because of his mother’s health.

The family operated a dairy near Tucson. There he met Mary Agnes Young who had left the Mormon colonies in Mexico at the time of the revolution. They were married in the Salt Lake Temple, and in 1923 moved to Mesa, Arizona.

He was a farmer most of his life, but later worked for El Paso Natural Gas Company. He was an accomplished pianist, but primarily played for his own enjoyment. He had a good sense of humor and enjoyed a good joke on himself, as well as others. He had an iron grip all his life, and said he lived poor and died rich. He sold his farm in his later years. He was able to move to town where he kept he and his wife in a rest home when their health deteriorated. He was likable and fun to be with.

Early Life

Harold Brown was the oldest of 11 children born to Charles S. Brown and Mary Halls. He loved his mother and was a big help to her on the family farm, particularly when his father was gone on his many travels. He even helped to bury his two little brothers who died as infants. He delivered mail on horseback in Indian territory when the Post Master was afraid to because of the Indians. He was wonderfully musically talented, teaching himself to play, mostly by ear. He played for Priesthood in church, and enjoyed music his whole life. He had a very funny sense of humor, could tell a joke better than anyone I knew. He also loved practical jokes, such as the time he substituted a soft boiled egg for a hard boiled one in a co-workers lunch for several days successively until the man, exasperated determined to cook the egg all night long. He was a hard worker, working on his parent’s farm and later digging trenches for the gas company. When he was nearly 80 years old he dug another septic tank for my parents.

1917 Harold, Mary and Mary's sibbling Joy:


He married young, without going on a mission or going to college, to Mary Agnes Young. They married in the temple, but soon afterwards he began drinking and smoking with friends, who may have been even LDS in that little Mormon community. But for him it became more than just social drinking; he became an alcoholic and a heavy, addicted smoker. He became mean and abusive towards his wife and children when drunk, and many times was in jail or some other kind of trouble. My father, the oldest child, became like the dad in the family, often going out to look for him in bars, etc. to try to get him home. His two youngest sons became alcoholics too, married outside the church and divorced, and died early deaths. He always knew that the church was true, and tried many times to quit drinking and smoking in his life. In his struggles he was very empathetic to others who made mistakes.


One story illustrates this: 
My father used to flick matches and watch them light. One day by accident he set the palm tree by his house on fire, and it partially burned the house. There was a lot of smoke, which could be seen for miles, and neighbors and firemen all gathered around to help put it out. My dad felt like hiding. After everyone went home and all the family gathered around each other, he felt like an outcast. His father saw him off by himself, and held his arms out to him. My father with a cry of joy and relief ran into his embrace. His father never mentioned this incident again during the next 57 years of his life.

Latter Years

He and his wife often quarreled bitterly, and in the latter years he lived in a room in the back of the house. But they never divorced. This incident symbolized their relationship: One time as they knelt down for family prayers, his wife complained that he always called on her. He said it didn't really matter since they both prayed for the same things: she prayed that she would have the strength to forgive him, and so did he....He felt badly for the way he had treated her, and it was his desire to live longer than her so that he could take care of her. He had several heart attacks, but he did outlive her by a couple of years, and largely cared for her when she gave up caring for herself. He quit smoking and drinking many times, finally giving up drink for good, but he went back to smoking until shortly before going into a coma, which he was in for about a year. My dad thinks it gave him a chance to have the craving cleaned out of his body before he died. He lived to be 90 years old. 

This writing comes from Suzanne Marie Gardiner, his grand daughter.

1940 Federal Census: 

He is buried at: 

7900 East Main Street
Mesa, AZ 85207-8948