December 19, 2018

Remembering George Brown

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George Brown of Rehoboth passed away on July 6 at the age of 82 after his long battle with cancer. He is survived by his wife Arlene B. Brown. He was the father of Christopher Brown and the late Derek Brown, and the stepfather of Donna Pereira and Michael Cram. He had six grandchildren; Sam, Christopher, and Maggie Brown, and Michaela and Marriah Cram. He had five great-grandchildren; Joey Hope, Mara Bloom, Tanner Scott, Colin Pereira, and Aenna Munroe. He was the brother of Beverly Roberston.

Brown was known to be very kind and quick to help others. His cousin, Dot Amaral, said, “He had that warm, giving, spirit about him.”

Brown taught math and science, and coached baseball at Central Junior High and Martin Middle School in East Providence. He loved his students and they had a lot of respect for him. He retired from teaching in 1989. Fellow teacher Paula Braman–Duarte said, “He was one-of-a-kind and his students loved him. For this (then) rookie teacher, being a part of his seventh grade team was a positive learning experience.”

Friends of Brown say that he had a great sense of humor. Lifelong friend and fellow polo club member, Mike Ohern, said, “Whenever I went in the barn to visit him, he had a joke waiting for me.”

Brown was a big advocate for New England horse racing. He had been active in the horse racing industry since Lincoln Downs opened in 1947. He was a charter member of the Massachusetts Thoroughbred Breeders Association and served as the president for over 20 years. In this position, he helped create the program that allows Massachusetts-breds to run and still earn purses and state-bred incentives at Finger Lakes in upstate New York as a result of the limited amount of live racing at Suffolk Downs.

Brown lobbied Massachusetts state lawmakers to pass legislation that would support the racing and breeding industry and the horsemen. He worked with the New England Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association and the former owners of Suffolk Downs to revitalize the track at the old Great Barrington Fairgrounds.

Brown owned and managed Briar Hill Farm in Rehoboth since 1964. It was one of the largest and longest running full-service thoroughbred facilities in New England. It is also the region’s only farm with a quarter-mile breaking and training track. There, he bred and trained horses.

Brown participated in the Fox Lea Farm polo club. After polo games, the members would get together and have hayrides and singalongs. They would sit around the campfire at Brown’s house and sing while he played the guitar. He enjoyed playing and singing Willie Nelson songs.

Brown was very hard-working and did not let his cancer stop him from doing what he loved. Sandy Hillman remembers him working out on the farm on the days after his chemo treatments.

Brown was a friend to all and will be dearly missed. In honor of George, a stake race called the George Brown Memorial Turf Mile will take place this month.

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