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John Robert Brown

John Robert Brown died peacefully on February 9, 2023 with his family at his side at the Heartford House residential facility of Hospice of Western Kentucky in Owensboro, Kentucky. He was born on April 27, 1929 to John Robert and Georgia Jane Jump Brown in Hardin County, Kentucky.

John’s father was a farmer with a large farm on the Hardin County – Meade County line. John was born and raised on the family farm.  When the stock market crashed shortly after John was born, they continued to persevere despite difficult circumstances.

Money was so scarce that at the age of ten, he started raising a popcorn crop that he sold to the local movie theater to cover the cost of his admission. Because of his ingenuity, he never went a Saturday without seeing an episode of his favorite weekly serial at the local theatre.

At age 18, he moved to Bowling Green, Kentucky to attend Western Kentucky University where he studied agriculture. Dad knew the value of education; both of his parents graduated from college in a time when secondary education was a luxury. He was able to pay for his college education cleaning the dorms paying his outrageous tuition of 50 dollars.

After finishing college John was drafted in the U.S. Army.  He was stationed in Germany from 1951-1953 as an Army Medic with the 43rd division. John never forgot about his family during his deployment. He was incredibly thrifty selling his cigarettes the Army rationed him to his fellow soldiers and Germans during his assignment. He was able to purchase a brand-new washing machine and indoor plumbing for his mother knowing that this would make life easier for his family at home.

At the end of his first enlistment, he was given the option to reenlist and was commissioned an officer in the Army Reserves from 1953 until 1981.  He retired in 1981 as a Lieutenant Colonel having served proudly for 30 years.

In 1961, he met and fell in love with his future wife Betty Leasor in Henderson, Kentucky.  John and Betty married on January 6, 1962.  They went immediately to Fort Chaffee, Arkansas where John had been called up to active duty because of the Cuban missile crisis.  During their assignment to Arkansas, John and Betty made life-long friends and traveled the country in their VW “bug”.

In 1965, John was assigned to Hancock County as a Soil Conservationist.  Over the next 30 years, John assisted local farmers with all farming issues and designed and sited many of the lakes and ponds in Hancock County.  Just as he loved his experiences in the Army, John loved working with the farmers of Hancock County. He called many of them his friend and looked forward to going to work every day.

John felt that Hancock County had been so supportive of him and his family.  He believed in giving to his community and did so.  He was a member of and actively involved at Immaculate Conception Church.  He was a fixture at the Church picnic calling bingo for many years.  He served on the Hawesville Water Board for many years.  If you have bought a famous Lion’s Club corn dog at the Hancock County Fair, it is likely that John made it.

John retired from the Soil Conservation in 1988.  He went on to work for the Hancock County Chamber of Commerce as the Executive Director for ten years.  He was responsible for beginning the Annual Farm City Dinner that many people still enjoy today.

When retirement came, John and Betty did something they had dreamed of – they started spending their winters in Florida and began traveling extensively.  John treasured his time in Florida and made wonderful friends.  He detested cold weather and loved to call home telling how warm it was in Florida.  He never forgot that he was a Kentuckian through and through and loved following the University of Kentucky Wildcats basketball.

John will be dearly missed by his daughter, Brenda Brown; his son, Bradley Brown and his daughter, Beth Harshman and husband, Scott Harshman; his grandchildren, Emma Harshman, David Harshman and wife, Lydia Harshman and grandson, Kaliff Brown and wife, Mariah Brown; his sister, Martha Baughman and her husband, Keith Baughman.

He has stayed close with extended family and is survived by Betty’s sister Mildred Stribling and Betty’s brother, Everett Leasor and wife, Mary Leasor.  And, there are so many dear nieces, nephews, and cousins who have stayed in touch with and will hold John’s memory close.  John was predeceased by his wife, Betty, his infant daughter, Beverly; and his parents.

There are not enough words for us to say thank you to a team of folks who provided loving care for John over the last two and a half years.  They are more than caregivers; they have become part of our family.  The family wants to express their gratitude to the staff of Heartford House in Owensboro, who compassionately and skillfully cared for John in his final days.

A Mass of Christian burial will be held at 11:00 a.m., Monday, February 13, 2023 at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Hawesville, with burial following with full military honors in Mt. Calvary Cemetery.

The family will receive visitors at Gibson & Son Funeral Home in Hawesville on Sunday, February 12, 2023 from 3:00 until 6:00 p.m. with a prayer vigil at 5:00 p.m. and from 9:00 until 10: 30 a.m. Monday at the funeral home.

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