Gordon Dean Brown of Columbia passed away July 29, 2020, at the age of 80.
Gordon was born Aug. 19, 1939, in Iowa. He was the third of seven sons born to Roland and Eula Winona (Bailey) Brown, two weeks before the start of World War II. Many of Gordon’s sustaining values and principles were developed early in life on the farm, such as hard work, caring for the land and the importance of family and community. He embodied the values of his parents — to serve causes greater than yourself.
Gordon received a bachelor’s degree from Iowa State University and a doctorate in Hospital and Health Administration from the University of Iowa. He learned the importance of leadership early in his adult life, while serving as an officer in the Army from 1962–1965 and in his subsequent work as a federal compliance officer, surveying Southern hospitals for compliance with the Civil Rights Act of 1965. In that role, he observed opportunities for improvement in the delivery of health care and committed to a career preparing hospital and health executives.
In 1967, Gordon married Kathleen Sue Miller, who grew up on an adjoining farm, and also embodied the values of family, community, hard work and preserving the land. In 1969, their first son, Douglas Roland, was born, with his first two years spent in Cali, Colombia, where Gordon worked with the World Health Organization. His lifelong international interest resulted in him working in 27 countries and visiting 45. In 1972, Gordon accepted a faculty position at Penn State University, and the family welcomed Sarah Lynne, born four days after Gordon returned from Colombia, and Dean Vernon Miller in 1975.
In 1979, the family moved to a farm outside of Columbia. Gordon served for 30 years as MU professor and chairman of the Department of Health Management and Informatics. His contribution to the field included three textbooks and preparing hundreds of graduates who would go on to lead some of the most prestigious medical centers in the country. He was awarded the Filerman Prize for Educational Leadership in 1998 and was inducted into the inaugural class in the Association of University Programs in Health Administration Hall of Fame in 2018. Gordon’s lifelong pursuit of knowledge transcended his professional field, his faith, his musical pursuits and life on the farm.
He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Kathleen; son Douglas and wife Jennifer of Maple Grove, Minnesota; daughter, Sarah, and husband Mark Laufenberg of Champaign, Illinois; and son Dean and wife Deirdre of Maplewood, New Jersey; seven grandchildren, Parker, Jackson, Henry, Samuel, Eleanor, Gwyneth and Declan; his brothers Gary, James and Jerald; and many beloved aunts, cousins, nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents and brothers Darrel, Richard and Donald. He was a lifelong member of the Presbyterian Church and a member of Golden K Kiwanis.
A memorial service for immediate family will be held at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 5, at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Columbia. The service will be livestreamed on Facebook for extended family and friends (please visit the church’s website, www.trinity-presbyterian.org, for redirection to their public Facebook page.) Interment will follow in 2021 in Barclay Cemetery in Iowa. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in Gordon’s name to the Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture, P.O. Box 1742, Columbia, MO 65205 (or via its website, www.ColumbiaUrbanAg.org) or to the Iowa State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences — International Support Fund, Iowa State University Foundation, 2505 University Blvd, PO Box 2230, Ames, IA 50010 (or via its website: www.isuf.info/brown).