Put on your thinking caps and solve this mental arithmetic problem. Ready?
If peppy Flower Mound resident Doug Brown was born in 1925 and, now in 2019, is still driving around helping out multiple local volunteer organizations, how old is he?
If your answer is the eye-popping number 94, we are impressed with your mathematical prowess.
Ask Brown how many years ago something historically specific happened, on the spot he’ll not only remember it, but he’ll do some dang-quick calculations in his head to determine the answer.
“The important thing about aging is to keep busy mentally and physically,” he said.
Reared on a family farm near Joliet, Illinois, he grew up during The Great Depression.
“My family never wanted for food, because we raised milk cows, corn, oats and soybeans,” Brown said. “As soon as we kids were old enough to help around the place, we all had chores.”
His favorite crop was soybeans, “because they were great for pea-shooters.”
Dad Brown, he said, liked the crop, because the plants returned nitrogen to the soil. Soybeans rotated to a new spot every year and kept the farm’s ground lively.
Brown himself, however, had non-farming ambitions that developed after an incident that occurred around the time he was nine-years-old.
“One day a small single engine plane, in need of some repair or other, made an unscheduled landing in one of our fields,” remembers Brown. “The pilot fixed-up his baby, then released his inner-entrepreneur and sold plane rides to all the neighbors for $1 per person. Fortunately, since he landed on my family’s property, we went up for free. From that day forward I wanted to be a pilot.”
Approximately 10 years later, as D-Day was about to play out in Normandy, France, Brown was fresh from high school graduation. He enlisted in what was then the Army-Air Corps, fully intending to fill a seat in a military cockpit.
“The thing I remember best about World War II was how united the people of this great country were,” he said. “Back then, we traveled to Basic Training on the train. The whole town came out to say goodbye. It was a big party and a great memory.”
Life, however, had other flight plans for young Doug Brown.
“I became a Crew Chief on B-25 and 826 training flights at Sheppard Army-Air Corps Base in Wichita Falls, Texas,” he said. “The Crew Chief was responsible to maintain the aircraft. I went up with my plane on every flight.”
That responsibility was a real motivator to do his best work.
About a year-and-a-half after he’d signed enlistment papers, the war ended.
Brown went home to a civilian job in the Joliet area. Life in the post-war work-a-day world intervened. So, in early 1948, he reenlisted for what would become a career in the counter-intelligence field for the next 18 years.
“I married in 1954, we had 5 children and we lived alternately in the U.S. and Europe,” said Brown.
He said he still speaks passable French, German and Italian. In 1997, he retired as a Chief Warrant Officer.
Ten years ago, he received the President’s Award from the Military Officers Association of America for a long list of volunteer activities he performed on behalf of active duty and retired military members.
That 1944 party at the train depot in Joliet created a permanent soft spot in his heart for people in uniform.
Today, his five children, nine grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren live all over North America. He lists the states of residence on his fingers: Texas of course, Oregon, Georgia, Florida, Massachusetts, and Michigan. Has he missed anything?
“Some of the younger ones are curious about me,” but he nixes the idea of traveling all over the continent. He’s not as young as he used to be.
The year after Doug retired, his wife of 44-years passed away, after a 13-year battle with cancer.
In 2008 he married his lovely wife, Clarene. She also was widowed after 44-years of marriage. The partnership was made at the Flower Mound Senior Center.
“At our age, the beauty of marriage is that neither partner has to prove anything,” said Brown. “We just enjoy each other’s company.”
Brown’s current local claim to fame is being the man who provides free, refurbished computers to military veterans in Denton County.
“There are more than 45,000 veterans in this county,” he said. “Some are not doing so well and having a computer makes it easier for them to find and apply for work and school.”
His home office houses four state-of-the-art workstations and a small radio tuned to Dallas’ own WRR. Brown’s garage is an honest-to-goodness, mostly-broken, computer warehouse. There are stacks of old laptops, plus stacks of towers, plus stacks of keyboards, plus shelves of monitors, with boxes of mice and cables and power supplies.
“I rebuild them, then give them to veterans in need,” he said.
To date, Brown has provided 1,000 local veterans with serviceable computers.
He even has a veteran-designed “business” card displaying an open laptop with a ringing phone handset icon on the screen. His personal motto on the card quotes C.S. Lewis: “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s think of yourself less.” It fits Doug Brown perfectly.
Last month, the One Star Foundation honored Brown with its award for Texas Senior Volunteerism. The prize was presented by Texas First Lady Cecilia Abbott in Austin.
Brown’s been an active member of the RSVP Senior Corps in Denton County since 2003. Previously, the Senior Corps paid him the high compliment of an AmeriCorps “Make A Difference Award,” in connection with his computer repair and donation project.
If that’s not enough, Brown is one of the co-founders of Flower Mound’s Seniors In Motion volunteer group, which today has more than 1,200 active members. The group did a lot of heavy lifting to make the town’s Senior Center a reality.
On the lighter side, Brown discovered his inner Champion at the Pinewood Hills Independent Living Community’s very athletic pie-eating contest on National Pie Day.
“That was a lot of fun,” said Brown.
It is probably safe to say that, in addition to keeping physically and mentally active, a healthy love of life– and not taking oneself too seriously– contributes to a good older age.
As Flower Mound’s official Veterans Liaison, Brown will be involved in the town’s salute to Veterans Day (designated as the eleventh minute, of the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of each year– the official end of WWI.)
The Town of Flower Mound will honor local veterans in a special Veterans Day ceremony and picnic on Sunday, Nov. 3, from 1 to 3 p.m. at Flower Mound High School’s football stadium, 3411 Peters Colony Road.
For Brown, the day’s most heart-wrenching event “is the Relay Run in which veterans move a U.S. flag between all the schools in town.”
Look for a runner in your neighborhood and give him or her a few enthusiastic “huzzahs.”
If you know a local veteran in need of a refurbished computer, contact Brown at 214-755-1153, or shoot him an email at: [email protected].