William E. Brown was born on January 4, 1923 in Plainfield, New Jersey. He attended Plainfield High School and was President of his Senior Class. He is one of ten members of the TNT Club, which consisted of ten of his male school friends. As to what the TNT stood for – all were sworn to secrecy and have kept it to themselves to this day. Bill attended Rutgers University and signed up for the V-7 officer’s training program after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. He was called into active duty before he finished his bachelor’s degree and attended training at Princeton, Northwestern and Notre Dame under tutelage of the Navy. Upon graduation from officer’s school he became active as a ward in the communications information center of the USS Louisville on December 13, 1944. Bill was active in numerous battles in the South Pacific during WWII and stayed on afterwards to assist in shutting down bases and decommissioning ships. He was released from active duty August 3, 1946, but remained a member of the Navy reserves though 1954.
During his active service, he received a bachelor’s degree from Rutgers. The additional training provided by the Navy qualified to complete his academic requirements. Upon release from active duty, he enrolled in Rutgers graduate program and received a doctorate in physical chemistry. In 1949 he married Edwina Leathem and shortly afterward accepted a job at Gulf Oil in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania as a research chemist. Bill and Winnie had two daughters, Edwina and Karen, while living in Pittsburgh. In 1955 Bill accepted a job in Dallas, Texas working for The Western Company as head of research and development. The family moved to Richardson, Texas where they became active in the First Presbyterian Church of Richardson. Bill was a member of Optimist International and a board member for Citizen’s Bank.
In 1968 Bill and Winnie had another child, this time a son, Greg. Shortly after that Bill decided to start his own consulting firm. He did the benchmark chemical research for such products as the home pregnancy test and typewriter correction tape. In the 1980’s Bill accepted a job with Norton Company to head up its propant division. He was in charge of the construction and production of a plant that made bauxite propant for use in fracturing high pressure oil wells.
Bill’s daughter had two children, George Brian III and Molly Daniel to whom he was very close. He consistently helped them with their science and chemistry homework and projects.
Being an excellent skier, Bill frequently participated in ski trips organized by church groups and friends. Upon retiring from Norton, Bill and Winnie purchased a house in Breckenridge Colorado where they could ski during the winter and enjoy wonderful mountain summers. They also spent a lot of time in a house they inherited from Winnie’s Mother located on Longboat Key, Florida.
In 2009 Bill and Winnie moved to Chapel Hill, North Carolina to be closer to their son Greg, his wife Lisa, and their two grandsons, Cameron and Zachary. Bill enjoyed hearing the boys play violin and piano as well as hearing about their baseball outings. Bill was a homebody and spent every day watching over, and dedicated to, his wife of 65 years. And, this is despite her inability to communicate with him due to her advance Alzheimer’s disease.
Graveside services will be held with military honors at 11 a.m. Monday at Chapel Hill Cemetery in Chapel Hill. Funeral arrangements are entrusted to Hall-Wynne Funeral Service, Durham. Online condolences may be shared at www.hallwynne.com.
The family requests donations in lieu of flowers to either the charity of the donor’s choice or: VFW Post 9100, P.O. Box 3768, Chapel Hill, NC 27515 or The American Diabetes Association – www.diabetes.org.