William “Bill” Caskey Brown, Sr. ’37 passed away March 23. He was born Aug. 27, 1915, in Chamblee, Ga., to Bessie Young Brown and Dr. Paul F. Brown, Jr., a dentist. He was preceded in death by his parents; three brothers, Samuel, Paul ’33, and Eldridge; and his beloved wife, Isabel McCain Brown.
Bill attended Georgia Tech for two years preparing to become an aeronautical engineer until God’s call to the ministry led him in a new direction. Even so, he was always fascinated with planes and how things worked. He graduated from Davidson with a bachelor’s in philosophy and later was awarded an honorary doctorate from his alma mater in recognition of his ministry.
On Aug. 29, 1939, he married Isabel McCain. When he completed Union Seminary (Richmond, Va.) in 1940, Bill and Isabel departed for Japan as missionaries. Returning as the war began, they were led by the Lord to Welch, W.Va., and then to First Presbyterian in Hazard where they felt called to serve the people in the coal fields of Eastern Kentucky.
God used that early love for engineering as Bill helped in the design and building of several of the churches. Bill and Isabel lived in Harveyton and Lothair, starting churches in those communities. They also started Hull Memorial, Smith Camp, and Glomawr churches and served the Vicco church.
After their 24 years of ministry in Perry County, they moved to the London, Ky., church which they served for 10 years. In all of Bill’s ministry, God gave him a gift for planning, organizing, and coordinating programs, but more importantly a gift for making people feel included and needed, equipping them to lead and build up the kingdom of God.
In 1977 Bill and Isabel retired to Montreat, N.C., doing several short-term interims while living at Umarest, the big, rambling house where they welcomed friends, family, and visitors from around the world.
Their later years were spent at Highland Farms, until their move to Lexington two years ago to be near family. His retirement years weren’t spent just sitting in a rocking chair on the porch of Umarest, but making improvements to the house, working at the repair shop for Habitat for Humanity, arranging stamps in his albums, playing games, tracing distant cousins for genealogical charts, traveling, bringing out the beauty in a piece of wood, or completing a crossword puzzle.
Bill was a wonderful father to six children. He and Isabel considered family a cherished blessing and went to great efforts to build strong family ties, including planning biennial reunions at the beach for the whole clan. Bill and Isabel were helpmates, friends, and true loves for over 70 years!
Bill is survived by his son, Bill Brown ’64 (Marilyn), 309 Colts Fork Rd., Jackson, KY 41339, and children, Bill (Jane), Mike (Sarah), and Becky; daughter, Betty Sloop and children, Ann (Steve Payne), Scott, and Ross ’94 (Kira); son, Ross Brown ’68 (Cathie) and children, Roger ’95 (Jennifer), David (Stacey), Phil (Callie), and Nate (Nancy); daughter, Evelyn Christensen (Ralph)and children, Brian (DeeDee), Martin, Susan, and Stephen (Kari Foust-Christensen); daughter, Mary Louise Forsythe (Bob) and daughters, Kathryn and Elizabeth; son, John Brown (Beth) and children, Jessica Sullivan, Zach Sullivan, and Paul Brown; and 16 great-grandchildren.