Harvey Arthur Brown, a lifelong Mendocino County resident, was quick to lend a hand, whether as a volunteer Willits firefighter or a willing neighbor with a knack for fixing lawn mowers and other power tools.
Brown died Oct. 22 at a Willits hospital, where he had been admitted after suffering a fall three weeks earlier. He was 95.
He served more than 20 years for the Willits Unified School District, retiring about 1982 as superintendent of building and transportation. For even longer he had served as a volunteer firefighter for the town's fire department, eventually rising to the rank of battalion chief.
"He just had a strong sense that you give back to the community," said his daughter, Brandyn Simpson of Sebastopol.
Born in Fort Bragg, Brown graduated from the town's high school. As a young man, he worked in local lumber mills and also played trumpet for big bands in San Francisco.
He married his wife, Lorraine, also a Fort Bragg native, on Dec. 5, 1941, two days before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. He joined the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1942 and was trained as an aircraft mechanic, working on B25 bombers.
Brown was a resident of Willits for 63 years. Before joining the school district, he worked as a mechanic there for the Berglund Tractor Company.
He was active for decades in the local Masonic Lodge, which he joined in 1955. He was a lifetime member of the American Legion and a founding member of the Mendocino Historical Society. He volunteered with the Willits Senior Center.
Even in his 70s he continued to help with the fire department's barbecues and pancake breakfasts.
Brown and his wife celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with a party at the firehouse. They had been married 64 years when Lorraine Brown died in 2005.
Brown did things that set him apart.
During his years with the school district, he played trumpet with high school students in their jazz band. In his 60s, he took a one-semester course in personal computers at Mendocino College. And when he could no longer drive a car, he rode his electric scooter on back roads from his rural home to restaurants in Willits.
Along with his daughter, he is survived by two more children, Donna Brown of Lincoln and Gary Brown of Dexter, Ore.; by five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
Family will hold a celebration of the lives of both Brown and his wife at 2 p.m. Dec. 23 at the Little Lake Grange in Willits. Arrangements are under the direction of Anker-Lucier Mortuary.
— Robert Digitale