Sewell A. Brown Jr., 80, sporting goods store chief, champion trap shooter

July 28, 2000|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Sewell Allen Brown Jr., a sporting goods business owner and champion trap shooter, died Monday of a heart attack at Sinai Hospital. He was 80 and lived in Lutherville.

Until his retirement about 20 years ago, he was president of National Sporting Goods Co. in downtown Baltimore. He also was chairman of the board of Belt's Corp. a warehouse operation with historic ties to the Southeast Baltimore waterfront. Formerly Belt's Wharf Warehouses, at Fell and Wolfe streets in Fells Point, the warehouses, which began in 1845, stored coffee, sugar and canned meats.

Mr. Brown, who outfitted Middle Atlantic college and high school teams with sports equipment, also was a firearms specialist and hunter. He was the regional distributor for Winchester rifles and ammunition. He also sold Smith & Wesson handguns, often to members of the Baltimore Police Department whose headquarters was several blocks from his store in the 300 block of E. Baltimore St.

Mr. Brown often combined hunting and business. While selling sporting equipment to colleges in the Carolinas, he hunted quail there. He had a duck hunting lodge in Southern Maryland and shot deer at Savage Mountain in Western Maryland.

In the 1960s, he built and outfitted the Baltimore County trap and skeet shooting range at Loch Raven watershed. He was a champion trap shooter, winning the state title in 1948, the Eastern states title in 1950 and grand prize from the Cavalier Club in 1962.

A lifelong sports enthusiast, who often threw tailgate parties on the Memorial Stadium parking lot, he was an early and loyal Baltimore Colts fan. In December 1958, he drove his family to New York for the much celebrated National Football League championship game against the New York Giants.

Born in Baltimore and raised in Forest Park, he was active in the Boy Scouts, achieving the ranks of Eagle Scout and Sea Scout. In 1934, he attended a Washington Scout jamboree and won the wood chopping contest. The prize was an axe. He later became Scoutmaster of Troop 48 in Northwest Baltimore.

He was a 1937 graduate of Polytechnic Institute. He attended the University of Maryland, College Park, where he played lacrosse.

During World War II, he enlisted in the Coast Guard in 1941 and was a lieutenant aboard the attack transport USS Cambria. A gunnery officer, he made numerous landings at Pacific battle sites.

On the way to Pearl Harbor, he contracted a rare flu. He requested to stay with his ship and was quarantined in the brig alongside prisoners of war.

An amateur machinist, he constructed a working, coal-burning miniature steam railroad locomotive, a copy of a Southern Pacific Railroad prototype.

He donated it to the Chesapeake and Allegheny Live Steam Club for families to ride at its Leakin Park railway.

Services were held yesterday.

He is survived by his wife of 59 years, the former Eleanor Bratt; two sons, S. A. "Skip" Brown III of Monkton and George A. Brown of Ruxton; a sister, Kathryn Bonsall of Towson; five grandchildren; and two great-grandsons.

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