11 February, 2014

In celebration of Thomas Glenn Brown

To all of my father's wonderful readers and fellow bloggers,

As many of you know, my father passed away peacefully but unexpectedly last Sunday morning, in my mother's arms. He was an extraordinary father and grandfather, the best. He, along with my mother and sister, were my best friends. I cannot quantify in his loss in words. I wanted so many more years with him than we had, but I am also grateful for every minute that we had together. Even as a child, I knew I was one of the luckiest people in the world because I was his daughter.

First of all, thank you for existing. Thank you for reading, discussing, sharing and appreciating his blog. He appreciated all of you tremendously, more than I know how to share. Your readership gave him a great gift in the last few years of his life.

Secondly, please find it in your heart to keep following, at least for awhile, and please share my father's writing with new readers. He had a handful of posts already scheduled throughout 2014, which will continue to appear. I will also be sharing a few things that I'm currently writing about him, and one of my cousins, who was my father's godson, has also asked to write a piece for the blog.

Finally, my family and I hope to establish a scholarship fund in in my father's name. The scholarship will benefit a student at the University of Virginia who, like my dad, overcomes a serious medical illness during his undergraduate years. I will post more information when it is available, if you would be interested in donating.

Below is his obituary, which will appear in our local newspaper this weekend:

Dr. Thomas Glenn Brown, age 65, went home to be with those who went before him, as he passed away on Sunday, February 9, 2014 in the comfort of his home, surrounded by his devoted family.
Dr. Brown was born in Portsmouth, Virginia on August 10, 1948 to Mary Alice (Rorie) Brown and the late Harold Clifford “Brownie” Brown, Sr. His father was a senior naval officer and he was raised and educated in Norfolk, Virginia, Grand Cane, Louisiana, Hutchinson, Kansas, and Virginia Beach, Virginia. He was graduated from Frank W. Cox High School in Virginia Beach in 1966.
He subsequently received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from the University of Virginia in 1970, a Master of Arts degree in General Experimental Psychology from Hollins College in 1972, and a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Experimental Psychology from the University of Maine at Orono in 1975. He was a member of the Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps at the University of Virginia but was medically discharged from service after he was diagnosed with lymphoma while still an undergraduate. He was also a brother of Pi Kappa Phi fraternity and a member of Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology.
On January 6, 1979, he married the former Civita Ann Caruso, with whom he shared a union of profound love and mutual commitment for 35 years. They shared their singular and unconditional love with their two daughters, Amy and Megan, whom Thom supported and guided through their own challenges, failures, and successes; never was there a more devoted and proud father and grandfather. Time with his family and their happiness was his utmost priority. He enjoyed every minute with them, from family dinners to taking his wife and daughters on trips around the world. He had a nightly routine of asking his daughters how their day was and if they got any papers back, questions he continued to ask Megan regularly over dinner, years after she finished school. Thom frequently described himself as “a fortunate man.”
Dr. Brown joined the faculty of Utica College in 1975 as an assistant professor in the psychology department, becoming a full professor in 1984. He served as Chairman of the Division of Behavioral Studies from 1983 to 1988, as Vice-President and Dean of the College from 1988 to 1997 and 1998 to 1999, and as President of the College from 1997 to 1998. In the spring of 1999, he returned to a full-time teaching position as Utica College’s first Distinguished Professor of the College.
Dr. Brown served Utica College with commitment and distinction both as a division chair and as dean, demonstrating exceptional leadership and directing the overhaul of the core curriculum at the college. He was a teacher of uncommon integrity and humility, and was appreciative of the accumulated wisdom of his fellow educators and students. During the course of his career, he authored 35 papers, presentations and grants. His scientific interests included learning and motivation, specifically schedules of reinforcement and their behavioral by-products. His work in higher education centered on faculty development, freshman retention and program review and planning.
He was deeply interested in all facets of history, but particularly the history of rational thought and of the discipline of psychology, twentieth century military history as it related to his father’s naval career, and his family’s genealogical history. At the time of his death, Dr. Brown had recently written a chapter entitled “Schools of Thought: The Influence of Theory” for the forthcoming book, Pips of Child Life: Early Play Programs in Hospitals, which was co-edited by his wife Civita and will be published in May. He was a gifted writer who brought his sense of humor to all of his endeavors.
He served on the Board of Trustees for the Utica Zoological Society, the Board of Directors for the Mohawk Valley Ballet, and the Board of Directors for the Resource Center for Independent Living (RCIL), of which he was also president, vice-president, secretary and treasurer. Dr. Brown was especially proud of his work with RCIL, a civil rights organization offering a wide range of independent living and advocacy services for and with individuals with disabilities. He was also previously a member of the Development Council, the Broadway Theatre League, the Fort Schuyler Club, Munson-Williams Proctor Institute, and the New Hartford Parent-Teacher Association. In 1991, he was named Presidenza Onoraria (Honorary President) of the Centro Studi Casauriensi in Abruzzi, Italy. His hobbies included collecting pins from Hard Rock Cafés around the world; he had visited 83 cafés in 16 countries.
Thom is survived by his wife and life partner, Civita, who was also his colleague at Utica College; his children, Dr. Amy Elizabeth Caruso Brown, a pediatric oncologist, of Denver, Colorado, Megan Glenn Brown, a psychologist, of New Hartford, and Megan’s fiancé, Matthew Rocci; his grandson of whom he was in awe, the “Mighty Finn”, Finn Thomas Caruso Brown; his mother, Mary Alice, of Virginia Beach, Virginia; and his brother, Harold Clifford Brown, Jr., of Alexandria, Virginia.
Thom was blessed with the love and kinship of his wife’s family, whom he truly regarded as his own, including his brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Peter and Liz Caruso, and their children, Kelley, Peter Jr., and Christopher (also his godchild); Peter Jr.’s partner, Stephanie Perry, and their son, Gavin; his nephew and niece, Michael and Gina Killino, and their children, Michael Jr. and Jenalle; and Michael Jr.’s wife, Ginelle, and their children, Landon and Brooke. Also left to remember him are his cousins, Tom and Carolyn Rorie, Ken and Floy Rorie, and Doug and Jeri Rorie, and their families in Texas; Rosemary and Andy Anguish, their children, Andrea and Mark Elsenbeck, Andrew and Tara Anguish, and Jason and Kim Anguish, and their grandchildren, Chloe and Emily Elsenbeck; and Fred and Lucia Frontera, Clareen Miserantino, Joann and Mike Motto, John Pietrantuono, Judy and Olin Roberts, and their families.
Throughout his life, Thom sustained many wonderful and long-lasting relationships, embracing social networking in recent years to reconnect to friends from his childhood and university days and forming new friendships through his popular blog, To Gyre and Gambol (bluedollarbill.blogspot.com). He was predeceased by his wife’s parents, Ida and Peter Caruso; her aunt and uncle, Bea and Bill McAleese; and his sister-in-law, Ann Marie Killino.
At the time of Thom’s passing, he was aided by the loving support of his brother-in-law, Peter, and future son-in-law, Matthew, who made every attempt to revive him. During his last hospitalizations, Thom and Civita were grateful to Lisa Rocci who “moved mountains” to enable him to return to his home.
His family would also like to thank Dr. Michael W. Kelbermann, his cardiologist, whose honesty and sincerity comforted Thom on many occasions, but particularly during a visit just a few days before his death; Dr. James Bramley, his infectious diseases specialist, whose astute clinical reasoning saved Thom’s life more than once; and Judith M. Rosinski, his physical therapist, whose kindness and compassion Thom valued for more than 20 years.