In The News › Civic activist gets TP Loving Cup

May 23, 2008

Source: Times-Picayune

Civic activist gets TP Loving Cup

Bob Brown thanks his family, but says he’s not yet worthy
Friday, May 23, 2008
By John Pope

Bob Brown received The Times-Picayune Loving Cup on Thursday in recognition of a quarter-century of civic activism, but he told an audience of family and friends that he felt he hadn’t earned it yet.

Citing previous recipients, many of whom were sitting in front of him in a University of New Orleans auditorium, Brown listed their qualities that, he said, he would like to acquire, including optimism, cheer, persistence and organizational skills, to be worthy of the accolade.

“I don’t have to do it,” he said, “but if I do what they’ve done, I’ll be worthy of it. I commit to all of you that I will follow in their wake. I give you my word on that.”

These attributes, Brown said, would join traits with which his mother and grandmother had imbued him, to form what he called “a tapestry, a shawl of lasting influence.”

Brown, 65, who got two prolonged standing ovations, received the award from Times-

Picayune Publisher Ashton Phelps Jr. The Loving Cup has been awarded since 1901 to men and women who have worked unselfishly for the community without expectation of public recognition or material reward.

“You have given us much,” Phelps said to Brown. “You have made New Orleans better by dint of your hard work and great heart.”

Brown’s career in public service includes the presidency of the Preservation Resource Center and the African-American Museum of Art, Culture and History; the chairmanship of the boards of the YMCA, Family Service of Greater New Orleans, the Legacy Donor Foundation and the Institute of Mental Hygiene; and seats on the boards of the United Way, the Council for a Better Louisiana, the Bureau of Governmental Research and City and Audubon parks.

Through such service, Phelps said, Brown gained a reputation as “a very capable guy, full of follow-through, interested in helping and very good at it.”

Brown, who has been managing director of the Business Council of New Orleans and the River Region since last fall, started being a volunteer activist in 1981, after serving 20 years in the Air Force.

While at Our Lady of Holy Cross College, where he managed and created programs to help veterans and other students get their federal education benefits, he worked with Sister Clarita Bourque to found the House of Ruth to help homeless women and their families. His wife, Brenda, who sat on the front row Thursday with other family members, is on the board of that organization.

In sizing up Brown’s life, Phelps said, “Nobody could have foreseen what a remarkable career it would be, nor the turn it would take toward public service.”

The ceremony was held at UNO because Brown worked there for 17 years. He was a vice chancellor and, for a time, athletic director. Chancellor Tim Ryan and his predecessor, Gregory O’Brien, were in the audience in the Lindy C. Boggs International Conference Center.

Brown thanked both men for encouraging his activism, saying they “gave me the latitude to take on community service, as much as I felt I could handle.”

Although Brown has said the Air Force taught him such skills as time management and supervision, he credited Sarah Watson, his God-fearing, Bible-reading grandmother, and his mother, Serena Brown, for shaping him.

The explanation of Brown’s character could be found in his mother’s maxims that he cited Thursday, including these: “When you wake up, get up. The bed is for tired folks at night and lazy folks in the daytime.” “If you’re not working, you’re loafing. Find something to do.” “If you can’t be on time, don’t go.”

“She would not allow her child to be anything but industrious,” Brown said.

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John Pope can be reached at jpope@timespicayune.com or (504) 826-3317.

May 23, 2008

Source: Times-Picayune

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