Former Congressman, business leader Clarence J. ‘Bud’ Brown dies

Clarence J. “Bud” Brown and then President Gerald Ford eat doughnuts during a campaign stop in Springfield.

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Clarence J. “Bud” Brown and then President Gerald Ford eat doughnuts during a campaign stop in Springfield.

State leaders past and present mourn his death.

Clarence J. “Bud” Brown, a nine-term Congressman and business leader, died Wednesday at his home in Urbana.

He was 94.

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Brown represented the 7th Congressional District as a Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives for 17 years, from 1965 to 1983. He was first elected in a special election to succeed his father, Clarence J. Brown Sr., who had represented the district for 27 years, from 1938 to 1965, and for whom C.J. Brown Reservoir near Springfield is named.

Brown was known for his constituent service and spent nearly every weekend in his congressional district, taking to heart his constituents’ needs, his obituary said.

While working in Congress, he had an impact on a series of energy policy laws – the Energy Reorganization Act of 1974, the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975, the Department of Energy Organization Act of 1977 establishing the Department of Energy and the National Energy Act of 1978, and the Emergency Energy Conservation Act of 1979, according to this obituary.

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Former Representative Clarence "Bud" Brown was on hand during the William Saxbe memorial service Sunday, Sept. 5 at Mechanicsburg High School.

Credit: Bill Lackey

Former Representative Clarence "Bud" Brown was on hand during the William Saxbe memorial service Sunday, Sept. 5 at Mechanicsburg High School.

Credit: Bill Lackey

caption arrowCaption
Former Representative Clarence "Bud" Brown was on hand during the William Saxbe memorial service Sunday, Sept. 5 at Mechanicsburg High School.

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Former Springfield-area Congressman Dave Hobson said Brown was dedicated to issues linked to the economic health of his district and he loved to have “intellectual conversations” with others in Congress to find solutions.

“He’s reflective of a bygone era,” Hobson said. “A lot of people should look back at it, look back at him, as an example of how to work with each other.”

Hobson, 85, said that he and Brown maintained their friendship after their times in Congress ended, getting dinner together in Urbana with their families many weeks.

Brown fostered a sense of community among his staffers and people who worked beside him. He described Brown as personable and accessible.

“People who worked with him seem to want to stay together,” he said. “He hired a good staff, and he allowed them to grow.”

Roger Bolton, who formerly worked as Brown’s chief of staff, saw many opportunities arise after working with the congressman. He first worked with Brown as his press secretary.

“Bud was an effective, influential legislator, who had a major impact on economic policy and energy policy.” Bolton said. “He was a thoughtful leader, and he really changed all of our lives.”

Brown also served as deputy secretary and acting secretary of the Department of Commerce under President Ronald Reagan, and he also ran for Ohio governor in 1982, winning the Republican nomination, but losing the general election to Democrat Richard Celeste.

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Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine issued a statement Thursday in regard to Brown’s passing, saying the former congressman was a “true statesman.”

“It was my honor to succeed Congressman Brown as the Representative from the old 7th Congressional District,” the governor said. “Bud was one of the leading Republican voices in Congress on energy policy and on economic policy. He understood the importance of cutting government waste and useless regulations, as well as cutting taxes to stimulate economic growth. We will miss him, and we extend our heartfelt condolences to his wife, Joyce, and his children Clancy, Cate, and Roy and their families.”

Prior to his election to Congress, Brown worked as a journalist in his family’s business, Brown Publishing Company, which had been founded by his father. Following his father’s death, Brown served as president of the company from 1965-1976 and chairman of the board from 1976-2002.

In his hometown of Urbana, Brown was active in the community as co-founder of the Urbana Rotary Club and Urbana City Park. He was named Man of the Year by the Urbana Chamber of Commerce and served as president of Ohio Young Republicans. He also served as a board member of the National Presbyterian Church of Washington, D.C., Wilberforce University and Urbana College. He served as president of the Harvard Business School Club of Washington. D.C., from 1986-88 and was a founding member of the Friends of Cedar Bog.

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Brown was a supporter of Wilberforce University and Central State University, two historically black universities (HBCUs) in his district. His efforts led to passage of a law in 1980 establishing a National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center in Wilberforce, according to his obituary. The museum, which opened in 1988, is one of the first national museums dedicated to African-American history.

Brown served as president and chief executive officer of the United States Capitol Historical Society from 1992 to 1999, succeeding the founder, Fred Schwengel, another retired Republican Congressman. The Society recognized Brown’s role in its history by giving him the Freedom Award as he retired, according to his obituary.

He also was an advocate for environmental responsibility, fighting for the designation of Cedar Bog, near his home in Urbana, Ohio, as a National Natural Landmark in 1967, and the inclusion in 1969 of the Little Miami River as a federally designated National Wild and Scenic River, according to his obituary.

Brown was born in Columbus on June 18, 1927. He graduated from Western High School in Washington, D.C., 1944; earned a bachelor’s from Duke University in 1947, and an MBA from Harvard Business School, 1949; served in the U.S. Navy, from1944-46 and 1950-53, according to his obituary.

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Bud and his wife, Joyce, had four children. The oldest, Beth, died in 1964 at age 7 after a three-year battle with leukemia. Bud and Joyce established the Beth Brown Memorial Foundation in her name later that year. Foundation scholarships have helped hundreds of high school graduates from Champaign County study medical and related careers in college, according to Brown’s obituary.

Brown is survived by his wife, Joyce Eldridge Brown; children, Clarence J. “Clancy” (Jeanne Johnson-Brown) Brown III, Catherine “Cate” Brown Brinnon and Roy Eldridge (Christine Nazarovech) Brown; grandchildren, Rose Beth Johnson-Brown, James Ransom Johnson-Brown, Clark Evan Brinnon II, Camille Anderson Brinnon and John Henry “Jack” Brown; family friends Turan and Bridget Tombul; and former staffer Virginia “Ginny” Gano and many other former staff members known as “the Brownies.”

The family suggests memorial contributions in Bud Brown’s name to the BrownRidge Foundation, which provides assistance to benefit small communities, at 430 Scioto St., Urbana, OH 43078-0071.

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