Brown legacy

Bruce Boland, second from right, executor for the Brown Family Trust, presents Boyce Baldwin, president of the Fountain Hills Civic and Cultural Association, with a check for $25,000 for construction of the Legacy Plaza at Fountain Park. Also present are Jerry Butler and Jenny Willigrod, co-chairs for the Greening of the Downtown Committee.

The Town Council unanimously approved the naming of the proposed Legacy Plaza in Fountain Park for the late Joe and Marge Brown.

The money for the plaza was donated by the Brown estate following the passing of Marge Brown late last year.

Community Services Director Mark Mayer introduced Bruce Boland, who represents the Brown Family Trust and is executor and trustee.

Boland told the council he was a personal friend and business partner of the Browns for many years, and he related how much they loved the community of Fountain Hills.

“Joe and Marge loved Fountain Hills and were early pioneers of the town,” Boland said. “They were here from 1970 through 2013.

“When Marge died, one of her final wishes was to do a number of things for other people, which is typical of what they did for nearly all their adult lives.”

Boland added that many people have known of the Browns’ love of Fountain Hills from the time they discovered the town in 1970 until their deaths. Joe died in 1999 and Marge in December 2013.

“One of Marge’s final wishes was to do ‘something’ to ‘give back; or in their case, give more’ to the city after their deaths,” Boland said. “That ‘something’ was left up to me to discover and implement.”

Boland said that during that search for “something,” he and his wife, Terri, thought about all the times Marge would bring them down to Fountain Park and reminisce about the early difficulties of building the Fountain and maintaining the motors, etc.

“But most importantly, how beautiful it is,” he said. “She spoke fondly of the Greening of Fountain Hills and how much effort was constantly being made to make the park better and better over time.

“In her last years, Marge would have difficulty walking down to see the leaves that were being sold to support the greening project and to look at all the changes with the new plantings.

“At that time, there wasn’t enough seating close by to sit and enjoy the view and reminisce. We thought about a new area for seating by the commemorative columns with the donation leaves.”

Boland said he talked with the Brown family and close friends about the idea as well as Jerry and Kathleen Butler, who were friends.

Jerry has also been co-chair of the Greening Committee, and he indicated the Greening Committee was going to make some changes to the current commemorative columns and the surrounding area.

“We thought because of her love of this area and her enthusiasm for this project, it would make a wonderful location for this legacy memorial to Joe and Marge,” Boland said.

Boland said with the help of Butler and others on the Greening Committee, and Susan Jones of Four Peaks Landscape, the concept for the plaza was developed and approved by the family.

It will be dedicated as “The Joe & Marge Brown Legacy Plaza.”

Boland added more to the Brown story for the council.

Joseph and Marjorie Knudson Brown were very effective, early pioneers and quiet advocates for many community causes, said. They were entrepreneurs, visionaries, risk takers and true believers of Fountain Hills for the majority of their adult years.

“While preparing both of their eulogies, I readily found support information for this presentation,” Boland said. “Their history has always included doing things for other people and for communities, from real estate to technology.”

Marge’s grandfather founded Badger, Iowa. She gifted that city and its church in her estate.

“In my quest for more information, I met with a former mayor and federal judge of Fort Dodge, Iowa, and learned even more things they had done for the enhancement and growth of Fort Dodge.”

Boland said he believes the greatest description for the Brown’s legacy was written by Times Publisher Alan Cruikshank at the time of Joe’s passing.

“He accomplished a lot for Fountain Hills with no fanfare,” it was written.

In 1978 Joe teamed up with Pratt Properties to build high risk properties to continue to grow Fountain Hills in the early days when there was little more than graded roads in the community.

“(It was) extreme high risk, but Joe and Marge pushed ahead to build the first apartments in Fountain Hills,” Boland said. “He invested and lent money to a number of new startups in town, some of which failed because the town was too small to support them at the time.

“Joe was instrumental in bringing many other business friends from Iowa to join him in helping build businesses in Fountain Hills. They brought many friends from Fort Dodge, Iowa, Minnesota and Canada to live here. They utilized their banking support from Fort Dodge to invest and grow a young Fountain Hills.”

The Browns’ Legacy Plaza will enable citizens and visitors a pleasant and peaceful place to stop and enjoy Fountain Park and many activities for years to come, Boland said.