Edward W. Brown, 91: 'His life was Calvert' He headed school for quarter-century


Edward W. Brown, who greeted students with a smile and a handshake during his quarter-century as headmaster of the Calvert School, died Monday of congestive heart failure at Greater Baltimore Medical Center. He was 91.

Mr. Brown was headmaster of the school, in the Tuscany-Canterbury neighborhood of North Baltimore, from 1940 until his retirement in 1965. Until his death, he remained a consultant to the independent school, which is known worldwide for its home instruction course.

Much like the fictional Mr. Chips, Mr. Brown was beloved by students and faculty.

"Every morning, Mr. Brown would be there with a smile and a kind word," recalled Douglas G. Ober, a member of the Calvert School Class of 1958 who is now chairman of the board of Adams Express Co., a Baltimore petroleum and resources business.

"He is one of the most remarkable guys I've ever known," said Robert L. Randolph, former director of development and alumni affairs at the school. "His life was Calvert."

Mr. Brown began his career in 1923 at what was then Gilman Country School. He taught English, history, geography, Latin and general science, and established the school's ice hockey and lacrosse programs.

In 1986, Gilman School dedicated its football field in his honor.

"He was a staunch believer in the benefits and values derived from playing sports," said his son, Edward W. Brown Jr. of Woodbrook.

Born and reared in Elizabeth, N.J., Mr. Brown received his bachelor's degree at Princeton University in 1923. He did graduate work at Harvard during the summer of 1930 and received his master's degree from the Johns Hopkins University in 1952 and a certificate of advanced study in education in 1953.

Archibald Hart, in his book "Calvert and Brown: 1947-1972," described Mr. Brown as "a man of simple tastes, with no ostentation. He is quietly proud of his ability to get things done."

Harry Marcopolis, who taught and coached at Calvert for 50 years, said, "He is one magnificent man who added much to this planet and to many people. He did good and never looked for credit, and he always sought the higher ground of excellence in whatever he did. He has influenced countless thousands of kids in the Calvert [home study] program who never saw Baltimore."

His generosity was legendary but discreet.

"He did so many things for people behind the scenes. He had been a scholarship student in college, and if he knew of a good kid who needed help, he was there with his own money," recalled his son-in-law, Redmond C. S. Finney, who retired as Gilman headmaster in 1992.

Mr. Brown lived in Woodbrook, in Baltimore County just north of the city line. He played golf at the nearby Elkridge Club and spent summers at his other home in Northeast Harbor, Maine.

"He was a fixture at the Elkridge Club in his white, long-sleeved shirt and floppy hat," his son said. "He golfed with five clubs and the worst beat-up balls you ever saw, and he couldn't putt."

Mr. Brown had been a member of the board of managers of the Family and Children's Society, the Maryland Children's Aid Society and the Cylburn Shelter Home. He was a trustee of St. Timothy's, Samuel Ready and Oldfields schools.

A memorial service is scheduled for 11 a.m. tomorrow at Brown Memorial Park Avenue United Presbyterian Church, 1316 Park Ave. in Baltimore.

Surviving, in addition to his son, are his wife of 62 years, the former Gwendolyn Cochran; a daughter, Jeanette Brown Finney of Baltimore; six grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

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