Thoughts from Contemporaries
By Jessa Eldridge
Thursday, February 23, 2012
Dr. Skip Murphy
In the fall of 1959, Dr. John E. Brown Jr. was the first person I met on campus, which left a lasting impression on me. I have had the privilege of knowing Dr. Brown, Jr. as a student, employee, and friend for the past 52 years. Dr. Brown followed the dream of his father to have John Brown University become a great Christian university where young people could receive a quality Christian education. Other presidents of private and state universities in the surrounding states had a great respect for Dr. Brown as well as the community of Siloam Springs. Dr. Brown was a family man, loyal to his employees, and had a great love for the JBU alumni. I just can’t say enough about Dr. John E. Brown, Jr.
He was my friend since high school – and a true friend at that. He was easy to get along with, and when he spoke, you knew that he meant what he said. Everyone could work with him because he knew what needed to happen in order to accomplish things. He not only instigated great expansion at JBU, but also welded the community to the campus by involving himself in and doing a lot for the community. He was a good friend and always had time for people.
I recall the first time I met John E. Brown Jr. I was a senior in high school in the fall of 1956 and involved in the athletic program. My assignment was to sell JBU an ad for the sports schedule of Siloam High. Mr. Brown quickly put me at ease and I learned that he was very much a sports fan and an avid supporter of the Siloam Springs Panthers. That first feeling was one of being intimidated in his presence, however before I left his office it was a feeling of being completely impressed by the man. This feeling remained to the end.
John E. Brown Jr. exhibited lifelong loyalty to family, church and John Brown University. He was born with inherent gifts that set him apart. They were used to further his life purpose and unique calling – fulfilling the dreams of his father for the university. Always armed with a diverse repertoire of jokes, he was a delightful companion. Guided by firmly established Christian beliefs and principles, his actions exemplified a man of deep convictions and faith. He was an inspired leader who lived his life and shared his varied gifts to the glory of God and to glorify his Lord Jesus Christ.
I was blessed on many occasions to witness a man who was as at ease with U.S. Senators and oil tycoons as he was with the unnamed person on the streets of Siloam Springs. He was the warmest, most appreciative host of a major donor to JBU while simultaneously sharing that same warmth with students and townspeople who attended the gift announcement or ground breaking.
Perhaps John blessed me the most when I saw him with his family. It didn’t matter who, when or how many he was with. His wit was the sharpest, his pride deepest, his joy bubbled over because John loved being with family. He lived his values and faith and encouraged others to do the same. How blessed I was to be included in a few of those special moments!