Stanley C. Brown, 80, attorney, supported other cancer patients

March 14, 2003|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,Sun STAFF

Stanley C. Brown, a retired Randallstown attorney who overcame the loss of his voice to laryngeal cancer, died of complications after surgery Monday at Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care. He was 80 and a Windsor Mill resident.

Mr. Brown, who was born in Baltimore and raised in Hamilton, was a 1939 graduate of City College. His college studies at the University of Baltimore were interrupted when he enlisted in the Army Air Forces in December 1941.

He served in the African, Italian and Central European campaigns as a navigator and in intelligence. He was discharged with the rank of staff sergeant in 1945.

After returning to Baltimore, he worked as a real estate title searcher while completing law school. He earned his law degree in 1948 and was admitted to the Maryland State Bar Association that year.

A self-described workaholic, Mr. Brown, who had been an insurance adjuster and claims manager, eventually became a partner in the Free State Adjusters, a Pikesville-based independent adjusting company.

Mr. Brown, who enjoyed singing and was a pack-a-day smoker, was attending an Orioles opening day game in 1964 when his physician called to tell him of the diagnosis of laryngeal cancer.

"I was devastated when I heard that I had cancer. Beside the personal agony, I needed my voice at work. I would talk for 6 1/2 of the eight hours I was on the job," he told the News American in a 1983 profile.

Doctors who removed his larynx gave him an 80 percent chance of recovery. After starting speech therapy, he returned to work within a month of his surgery.

"His positive outlook and success in learning to speak without amplification or other electronic assistance led to his tenure as a certified hospital visitor," said his daughter, Sally Lawrence of Tehachapi, Calif. "In that capacity, he encouraged others going through similar issues to develop their ability to speak."

A son, David R. Brown of Ledgewood, N.J., recalled his father's courage in the face of what could have been a career-ending medical situation.

"He was always very humble about his cancer. What he tried to do was bring hope and optimism and the fact that not only was he a cancer survivor but he was also productive," Mr. Brown said.

"He was the kind of man who plowed through most situations in life and made the best of them. He always said cancer was not a disability but an opportunity," he said.

In 1970, Mr. Brown left the insurance industry and entered private practice, establishing an office in the Rockdale Professional Building in Randallstown, where he specialized in workers' compensation, bodily injury and adoption cases. He retired in 1989.

"I've known Stan for 40 years and he did one hell of a job. He's a remarkable man who was so well-liked," Melvin J. Pryor, a Towson attorney, said yesterday.

"He was a deeply religious man who played the cards he was dealt, and he enjoyed the practice of law and didn't want to give it up," he said.

Even though his voice was raspy and low, Mr. Brown was able to make himself heard in court, albeit in a less-than-conventional manner.

"He had to be close to you, and then you could hear him. Obviously, he couldn't be heard in the back of the courtroom, but when he needed to be heard he'd walk over to the judge, attorneys and jury and speak directly to them," Mr. Pryor said.

"He used to say that he was forced to choose his words more carefully and judges, juries and attorneys had to strain to hear him, which meant he had their complete attention," David R. Brown said.

Mr. Brown had been active with the Lost Chord Club of Maryland, a group of laryngeal cancer survivors, and the Maryland Chapter of the American Cancer Society, where he was a permanent member of the board.

He was also an active member and elder of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Catonsville.

"He let nothing get in his way. Amid all of the things he had been through in his life, he never complained. His heart for other people was huge," said the Rev. Stephen B. Schafer, the church's pastor. "With Stan, you'd go to minister, and come away ministered."

He also had been president of the Randallstown Exchange Club and the Sigma Delta Kappa legal fraternity.

He was an avid golfer -- once sinking two holes in one within 10 days -- and a billiards player.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. today at St. Paul Lutheran Church, 2001 Old Frederick Road.

Other survivors include his wife of 57 years, the former Ruth V. Bruchey; another son, Stan Brown of Cortland, N.Y.; a sister, Marianne Heilmann of Beltsville; and two grandsons.

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