James Daniel “Butch” Brown was a loving husband and father and his sole purpose in life was to be a provider. He was self-sufficient and had a strong work ethic that he shared with his wife and instilled into his daughter. He loved the Mississippi river and used to ice skate out to the islands near Ft. Madison when the river would freeze, sometimes with the ice dangerously cracking in his wake. His first job at age 11 was cleaning fish at his uncle Bud Horn’s fish shop, which used to be across the street from Handy Corner. From then onward he always had a job. As a boy in the 1950s, his family had three horses which they kept in the small barn at the house and would ride them around town. In his teens he loved cars and drag racing, and handed out calling cards saying, “Have car, will drag.” Once he was chased by the Lee Co. Sheriff for fooling around with racing but outran them and made it home before he could get caught (even with a hot engine in the driveway as circumstantial evidence). Butch met Connie and had several years of marriage and living up the young life including hosting parties at their house, attending large family gatherings at his parents’ house next door and water skiing on the river before being drafted into the Army and ordered to Vietnam. There, his role was to drive a wrecker to pick up vehicles that had been broken down for retrieval to keep out of the Viet Cong’s hands. He christened his wrecker the “CONNIE LEE” and upon which he stenciled the name. Butch and Connie faithfully wrote letters to one another every day that he was deployed and those letters kept him going. He survived sniper fire and other horrors of war to make it home. After his honorable discharge, he followed in his father’s footsteps becoming a welder and pipefitter for the Local 212 Plumbers and Fitters Union. He worked both locally and travelled far and wide around the Midwest, building things from projects here at DuPont in Ft. Madison to Keokuk, Cedar Rapids, Minneapolis to Kansas City. The most unique project was the piping for the University of Iowa Advanced Technology Labs (i.e., the Laser Lab) in Iowa City. His daughter eventually had a lab there in graduate school, and it was special for her to know he had touched that place. He was a creature of habit, taking up jogging and calisthenics. He exercised every day that rolled in the mornings before going to work. In the 1980’s Butch loved fishing with a passion and filled his days during work layoffs chasing fish.
Another family ritual was weekend morning coffee with his best friend and brother-in-law, Dwayne Hartman. He also loved the simplicity and peacefulness of sitting in the sun, visiting with family and drinking a beer or two with country music playing on the radio. In the summers, you could find Butch and family going for pleasure drives in their bright yellow 1973 Volkswagen Super Beetle convertible. Being the friendliest car in the continental U.S., strangers would honk and wave in friendly greeting no matter where they went. Butch worked for about 40 years and in retirement bought an RV and camped with his wife regionally, always near a body of water. He started riding his bicycle, a gift from his daughter. He rode 2-3 times a day riding upwards of 20 miles just around town! Butch and Connie had several pets over the years and while each had a special place in his heart, his last one was the most special. Babe, the little Shih Tzu, a runt of the litter and diagnosed to live only a handful of years, was with them for 15 years. Butch was smitten with little Babe, taking her for walks, spoiling her with treats, and taking her everywhere they camped. She filled his heart and it was a joy to see him so happy. He was everyone’s favorite uncle, brother and friend. He was the kind of father folks wish they had. And he was a husband who loved his wife every single day of their marriage, which ended the day he died, only 3 days shy of their 62nd wedding anniversary. For those who he left behind, he will be missed and his memory cherished.
Cremation has been entrusted to the care of King-Lynk Funeral Home & Crematory and no services are planned at this time. Burial will be held at Oakland Cemetery. Online condolences to the Brown family may be left at the King-Lynk Funeral Home & Crematory website: www.kinglynk.com.