Sunday, September 28, 2008

Remembering Mrs. Brown

Ula Brown Maclachlan, who passed away Thursday, was the widow of John L. Brown, the founding President & CEO of Community General Hospital. Mr. Brown was hired in 1958 to design and build the new Community Hospital on Onondaga Hill in Syracuse, NY. He retired in 1982 and died in 1986.

Perhaps 15 years ago, Jerry L. Harris, Mr. Brown’s successor as CEO, gave me a file of personal papers that belonged to Mr. Brown – correspondence, personal notes, the agenda of his interviews for the CEO position, etc. Jerry found the papers in his files, and he asked me to review the documents, saving anything of importance to Community General. I made copies of several documents I thought were relevant for the hospital, but most of the papers were personal in nature. I packed them up and sent them to Mrs. Brown.

A while later, Mrs. Brown sent me the kindest note. To today’s sensibilities her note would seem somewhat dated, quaint, perhaps even politically incorrect. But I was touched by her thoughts.

Paraphrasing (from memory), this is what she said. Mrs. Brown thanked me for sending the documents, saying that she read them with interest and that many fond memories were recalled. She said the documents were especially interesting to their children, Bill and Christine. Mrs. Brown commented to the effect that “when a man is at his most productive, his children are too young, too unaware, or too uninterested to understand the significance of his accomplishments.” She said that Mr. Brown's personal papers provided an opportunity for their children to better understand what Mr. Brown had accomplished and what he meant to the community.

Today, I recall Mrs. Brown, her work at Community General as a founding member of the Auxiliary and as a Volunteer, her life in the community, and the love and support she gave to family and friends.

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