David Brown ’63

1 November 2017

Class: 1963

Major: Physics

Residence: Chapel Hill, NC

Deceased: October 20, 2017

Alumni survivors: Jean B. Peterson, LCSW, ATR-BC, TEP ’65 (Sibling)

An obituary from the Raleigh (North Carolina) News and Observer

Dr. David Warren Brown, 76, of Chapel Hill, NC died peacefully in his home on October 20, 2017, after a long illness. His life before and after the progression of his illness was vastly different, but his gentle, positive nature never wavered. He was above all a kind and loving husband, father, grandfather, son, brother, and dedicated physician. With his every action, he taught us to approach the world with curiosity and a desire to learn, and to always act with thoughtful intention.

David was born in Rochester, NY on September 16, 1941 to Dr. Robert Lee Brown and Alice Johnston Brown. He grew up in Atlanta, GA and graduated from Grady High School. In his senior year, he won the award of “Star Student of Georgia”, which provided a full scholarship to a local college. He decided instead to attend Carleton College in Minnesota, where he majored in physics, decided he didn’t enjoy the cold, and permanently lost his southern accent. He later switched his major to premed, and following graduation in 1963, was admitted to the University of Rochester School of Medicine in Rochester, NY, graduating in 1967.

David began internship at the University Hospital of Cleveland, where he furthered his medical training and pursued a young nurse named Linda Bongiorno, who would become his wife of 49 years. The couple married in 1968, and moved to Claremore, Oklahoma where David served as a Lt. Colonel in the Indian Health Service, a branch of the Public Health Service. There he broadened his medical expertise by providing services in the Pediatrics, OB-GYN, Emergency, and Surgery departments in a hospital serving the Cherokee, Creek, and other Native Americans. In 1970, they returned to Rochester, where he completed a 3 year residency in Internal Medicine. This specialty was a perfect match for him, as his keen intellect drew him to the diagnostic process, while his steady and grounded manner was well-suited to the role of a primary care physician.

In 1973, seeking his first job and a place they could raise a family, David and Linda moved to Chapel Hill, where David joined the practice of Chapel Hill Internal Medicine. He would spend the next 34 years there as a calm, caring presence in the lives of hundreds of patients. He was known for his exceeding kindness and respect for his patients and colleagues, and for keeping his black “doctor bag” in his trunk so he could make occasional house calls. 

David was a nurturer at home as well as at work. He was a patient, unflappable, and supportive father to Emily Werner (Erik), Robin McCurdy (Derek), and Eric Brown (Annemarie). He found great joy in his seven grandchildren Luke, Ava, and Julia Werner, Declan and Eliza McCurdy, Parker, and Harrison Brown. It is their tremendous loss that he did not have longer to continue to be the active and involved grandfather he was. He is also survived by his wife Linda, and his sister Jean Peterson (Dick Grachek). His parents Robert Brown and Alice Johnston Brown, and his sister Anne Meyer preceded him in death. 

David was a lover of classical music and a talented amateur photographer. He loved to travel, and almost as much as the travel itself, he loved to plan trips for his family, and later for himself and Linda to take together. He was active in his church, and after retirement volunteered with Habitat for Humanity and at the medical clinic at the local homeless shelter. Our deep sadness at his loss is tempered both by the awareness that his illness had come to interfere with his ability to fully participate in many of his joys and passions, and by our gratitude for having had his supportive and unwavering love for so long. 

A memorial service will be held at 4:00pm on Sunday November 19, 2017 at the Eno River Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 4907 Garrett Road, Durham, NC. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations in David’s name to the NC Symphony, Habitat for Humanity, or The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.

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