Local 1132 mourns the death of Christopher W. Brown
Chris Brown passed away unexpectedly after he became ill after working a 24 hour shift on Wednesday, October 21, 2009 and was then diagnosed with cancer. Chris passed away in the evening of the 22nd at Roanoke Memorial with his family at his side. Chris was a Captain assigned to station 1 on C-shift and an IAFF Local 1132 member. He was 44 years old at the time of his death. He is survived by “his girls” who are his wife, Stephanie, and their two daughters Caroline, 16 and Hannah, 11.
Chris and his family dedicated their lives to the City of Roanoke. Chris was a second-generation firefighter following in his father’s footsteps. Chris’ father, Clarence Wayne Brown (deceased) retired from the department in 1989. His brother, Mark, also followed the same path and currently serves as the Lieutenant on engine 5 C-shift. His mother, Marquetta Brown retired from the Roanoke City Occupational Health Clinic as an RN.
Chris was hired into the Roanoke Fire Department, now Roanoke Fire-EMS Department, on August 2, 1994. He worked in the company prior to attending his recruit school which he attended with eight other members in 1995. His first assignment as firefighter placed him in one of the busiest companies in the city at the time, old station #3 located at 6th and Rorer SW. He served on C-shift Southside under the command of Battalion Chief Pat Taylor (retired / deceased) and Captain Kenny Watson (retired / deceased). He had the honor of serving with men such as Lt. Randy Obenchain (retired), Firefighter William Humbert (now Lt. Station #7C), Firefighter /EMT Matt Dewhirst (now Capt. #7B) and Firefighter/ Paramedic Kent McIlhany (now captain #8 B). This assignment placed Chris on the scene of many of the most memorable incidents in Roanoke’s recent history. He would later be transferred to Station #6 C with Capt. Eddie Carter (retired), Lt. Rory Lee (retired) who was replaced by Lt. Willie Wines Jr. (Capt. #9C), Firefighter Adam Fleming, and Firefighter/Paramedic Marci Stone (resigned) and Firefighter/Paramedic Hank Pfister. From there, Chris would make the rank of Lieutenant and serve at Station #11C where he would remain with Captain Carter until his transfer back to his beloved station #3. At home again on 6th and Rorer, Chris worked under Captain Terry King (now station #7C) and began his watch over members such as Firefighter/Paramedic Justine Hines (AKA “57” resigned), Gracey Wirt Humbert (resigned, now part time), Firefighter/Paramedic Jason Crouch (now Lt. #7A) and Firefighter/EMT Adam Fleming (now Station #1C). Chris continued to climb the “promotional ladder” and soon made 1st Lieutenant. This assignment moved him to Station #7C under Captain Dale Barker (now Battalion Chief C-North). From there, Chris would make Captain and take command of his first company in the department headquarters Station #1 C-shift under his long time friend and mentor Battalion Chief Jeff Beckner.
Undoubtedly, his past assignments and co-workers made a huge impact on Chris’ life and career. In the early years, he was known as a “bull”. Always eager and willing to perform his duties and would let nothing get in his way. He grew and developed into a stern but understanding Captain. He has passed along his knowledge and experiences to his men and has molded them into one of the most respected companies within the department. Chris was known for his abilities and leadership style. He has excelled in every aspect of his life, from the job, to his family, Chris has shown devotion.
Every member who has worked with or around Chris will hold their own special memories. Memories of his firm hand shakes, his ear to ear smile, his hyperactive approach and his unforgettable pride will be remembered by all who knew him. Although the department was important to Chris his first love which he showed openly was to “Steph” and “the girls” as he called them. No matter what was happening, when Stephanie, Caroline and Hannah made one of their many visits to the station, the Chris’ smile remained but the hyperactivity turned to calm which would let everyone around him know that his happiness had arrived.
Captain Chris Brown will be remembered and missed by all, both his immediate family and his fire department brothers and sisters. His dedication to both should be an example to those he leaves behind.
Matthew 23: 11-12 “The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself with be exalted. “
May you rest in peace oh brother of ours, called for a higher duty in the kingdom of Heaven. Well done lad, well done!