In Memory of
Samuel "Sam" Brown Jr.
November 15, 1939 – January 18, 2021
Samuel “Sam” Brown, Jr., passed away the morning of January 18, 2021. Born in Holland, Kentucky on November 15, 1939, Sam was the youngest child of Samuel Olen and Jewell Wilson Brown. Sam cherished his childhood on the family farm and attending a one-room schoolhouse, often taught by one of his sisters. It was in Allen County where Sam decided to follow Christ – a commitment he honored as a lifelong Sunday School teacher, including the Senior Adult class at Vestavia Hills Baptist Church.
After graduating from Allen County High School, Sam attended Western Kentucky University where he earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree. Sam’s professional career began as a math teacher and coach in the Bowling Green City Schools. Not only did these early years spark a passion for education, they revealed a lifelong commitment to investing in others. Sam had a gift for seeing the potential in those around him and in helping others reach that potential.
Sam’s career in education continued as he served as Principal of Potter Gray School at age 27. In 1968, Sam married the love of his life, Elizabeth “Libby” Ann O’Bryan. Two years later, Sam and Libby moved to Lexington, KY where Sam earned an Ed.D. at the University of Kentucky and subsequently worked at the College of Medicine. In 1975, Sam and Libby moved their young family to Birmingham, Alabama, where Sam worked in the UAB School of Medicine’s Office of Educational Development. In 2005, Sam retired as a full professor and Associate Dean. Among other professional achievements, Sam served on the National Arthritis Advisory Board of the National Institutes for Health and was the first non-clinician to serve as President of the American Association for Cancer Education. Recognizing Sam’s vision for connecting different departments and schools within the University, UAB established the Sam Brown Bridge Builder Award in 2009.
As a child, Sam developed a love of sports as he listened to radio broadcasts of the New York Yankees. His true sports passion, how- ever, was basketball. Sam loved to watch and to coach basketball. Some of his fondest memories included the years he spent coaching the L.C. Curry basketball team, coaching his children, and at- tending UAB basketball games with his family.
In addition to traveling with Libby and spending time with his children, Sam gave generously to his community. He invested in local schools by serving as President of the Vestavia Hills Elementary West PTA, chairing the Comprehensive Needs Assessment Committee for the Vestavia Board of Education, and serving on the steering committee supporting a successful 1990 tax referendum to increase funding for Vestavia Schools.
Sam is survived by his beloved wife of 52 years Elizabeth O’Bryan Brown of Birmingham, daughter Julie and son Scott (Kelley) both of Birmingham, son Stuart (Noelle) of Atlanta, and six grandchildren: Caroline, Carter, Grace, Maryn, Eli, and Sam, each of whom he regularly described as “perfect.” Sam also leaves many dearly loved members of his extended family and friends. The family would like to thank the many caregivers from Right-at-Home who cared for Sam over these last several months.
Friends and family are invited to virtually attend a Celebration of Life service on January 27, 2021 at 11:00 a.m. The service will be available at http://www.vhbc.com/video-streaming.
Visitation will be Saturday January 23, 2021 at the T. W. Crow & Son Funeral Home from 12:30 PM to 1:30 PM.
A Graveside service will be Saturday January 23, 2021 at 2:00 PM at the New Salem Missionary Baptist Church.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made in Sam’s memory to the Sam Brown Bridge Builder Award. Donations can be made online by visiting: go.uab.edu/SamBrownMemorials. To make a donation by check, please make checks payable to UAB, include “Bridge Builder Award 3110352” in the memo line, and mail to UAB Gift Records, AB 1230, 1720 2nd Avenue South, Birmingham, AL 35294.
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