Served in the U.S. Navy
Billy Ernest Brown, 94, of Sunrise Beach, Missouri, passed away Saturday, April 28, 2012. He was born in Webb City, Missouri to David Nathaniel Smith Brown and Mary Susan Elizabeth (Simmons) Brown, the 5th of 6 children. All of his siblings, Clyde, Claude, Max, Anna Belle Hawkins, and Adda Emery, predeceased him. He grew up during the Great Depression, during which his family lost their farm in Cedar County and moved to Eldorado Springs. During his high school years, he lettered in several sports. His favorite was baseball and his picture still hangs in the Eldorado Springs High School.
After high school, Bill served in the US Navy from 1935-1939. His first ship was the battleship USS Pennsylvania. This ship sailed with President Teddy Roosevelt’s Great White Fleet. His second ship was also notable, the USS Enterprise. Bill checked aboard Enterprise as original crew, and sailed her through her shakedown cruise and later through the Panama Canal.
He continued serving his country as a government service employee in the area of radar and communication installations in the Aleutian Islands until 1944.
After WWII, he opened and operated an appliance store in Eldorado Springs. Appliances being scarce, he then started selling records for Capital Records out of Kansas City. During this time, he spoiled himself and obtained his private pilot’s license, flying for his great enjoyment. From the record business he became interested in broadcast radio. Starting as an account executive at the station in Nevada, he moved on to KDKD in Clinton, as station manager, then Boonville, both owned by the same person. The owner of these then started a new station in El Dorado, Kansas and he went there as manager. It was in Kansas that he met the love of his life, Gerry Swanson, whom he married May 14, 1954.
From El Dorado, Bill went to Jefferson City as sales manager of the new KLIK. A few months later, a management opportunity was offered for a station in Ottumwa, Iowa by a former station owner. He brought this station to success and so was sent by the owner to an off-air station in San Francisco and it became the #1 station in an unheard of 13 weeks! This success brought him an offer to manage a 50,000 watt Mexican based station with studios in San Diego. This wattage covers a huge territory and also programmed ne Top forty format with the agencies and radio stations nation-wide. One of his “treasures” was an angry letter from Frank Sinatra disparaging his station’s programming- Top 40. Returning to Missouri, he started receiving calls from stations in trouble, and so began his radio consulting business, working with stations from New York City, New Orleans even to Hawaii.
Bill’s dream was to own his own station. This prospect was fully financed by three business men in Springfield, however after applying to the FCC for a vacant frequency, and waiting three years. It went to another applicant. His livelihood was still sales; car sales, water conditioning, insurance, whatever, and working with people, fulfilling their needs. His nephew needed his help at his station in Carrolton, Missouri and from there Bill was back in radio at other stations in Missouri.
Bill was intricately involved in politics during the Reagan Revolution, running for Missouri State Representative.
His final business adventure was as owner/operator of a RainSoft water conditioning dealership in Osage Beach, Missouri, in the 1990’s.
Bill and Gerry had three children; David, (granddaughter Leanna Welch, husband Brian, great grandson Bradley Welch), Terry (wife Vicki, grandson Michael), Lori Green Hickerson (husband Jeff, granddaughter Jerilyn Green, grandson Jordan Green). Bill had a son from a former marriage, Billy Gene (wife Susie daughter, Heather and husband) all reside in Texas. He was a deeply devoted and loving husband, loyal family man, dedicated and loving father and Papa. He had a soft spot for dogs and was known to enrich the family with a homeless poodle. His love for baseball was shared by coaching his sons, David and Terry, and being a dedicated fan at all his children’s games and special events. When their ball playing days passed, he was a faithful fan at his grandchildren’s baseball, softball and swimming events. He will always be remembered as the man who loved his family unconditionally, bragged about his family shamelessly and cherished his wife, children and grandchildren.
A private funeral service was held at Hedges-Scott Funeral Home, Camdenton, Missouri on Monday, April 30, with burial in their beautiful cemetery, located behind the funeral home.
A Celebration of Life Memorial Service will be held Saturday, May 26, 2012 at 10:30 a.m. at First Baptist Church in Sunrise Beach, Missouri.
Expressions of sympathy may be forwarded to the family at www.hedgesscottfuneralhomes.com
Arrangements have been placed under the care of Hedges-Scott Funeral Home, Camdenton, Missouri.