Leon Robert Brown, 79, production supervisor for the Afro-American

February 11, 2000|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Leon Robert Brown, retired production supervisor for the Afro-American Newspapers in Baltimore, died at his Lochearn home Sunday of complications after surgery. He was 79.

For 42 years, he worked at the newspapers' plant at Druid Hill Avenue and Eutaw Street, helping prepare the printing plates. He retired in 1988.

"He was a man who would help you," said Clarence White, an Afro-American employee who trained under Mr. Brown beginning in 1960. "And he would instruct you if you needed it."

Born in Paris, Tenn., Mr. Brown moved to Brazil, Ind., as a child. After his mother died when he was 4 years old, he was raised by Dr. Jacob B. Oliver, a physician member of the family that runs the Baltimore-based chain of newspapers.

Mr. Browne moved to Baltimore with members of the Oliver family after he spent two years at Indiana University, studying English.

He was drafted into the Army in 1942 and served in Europe. He was wounded in Italy and awarded the Purple Heart.

While in Rome, he visited Vatican City and was invited to the papal apartments to meet Pope Pius XII.

After he was discharged, he returned to Baltimore and began working at the Afro-American. He was initially a member of the stereotypers union and later joined the ranks of the paper's management as the stereotyping supervisor. He was in charge of printing the papers distributed in Baltimore, Richmond, Washington and other cities.

He was long active in the Lochearn Improvement Association in Baltimore County.

Mr. Brown played the bass fiddle in jazz orchestras as a young man. He also enjoyed woodworking, building furniture and home improvement projects.

He also was a photographer who had a darkroom, and kept dozens of albums of carefully dated pictures of his family's life in Baltimore.

Mr. Brown enjoyed cooking, and was especially fond of recipes that included hot spices. He had an extensive library of cookbooks.

"My husband created a family atmosphere, where we discussed current events at family dinners," said his wife, the former J. Doris Baird, a retired Baltimore City school teacher. "He did a lot to promote interest in science in his children."

It paid off with their daughter, Dale Brown Emeagwali, a biologist and Morgan State University professor, being named Scientist of the Year by the National Technical Association in 1996.

Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday at March Funeral Home, 4300 Wabash Ave.

In addition to his wife and daughter, he is survived by two sons, Dexter Brown and Darryl Brown, both of Baltimore; and five grandchildren.

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