Robert Stewart Brown was “blessed” to die in his sleep on the early morning of June, 23, 2021 in his own bed with his wife hearing him gasp for breath. He looked long and thoughtfully at the full moon the night before he went to bed in the house on Foxglove Lane that he and Linda Lou had built together.
Robert was born on October 8, 1952 in Moberly, Missouri. His parents were Robert Lee and Vera Louise Brown of Madison, Missouri, who preceded him in death. He is survived by his wife Lina Lou Brown and his son, Taylen Nickolas Brown (Tracey Brown) and Linda Lou’s children, Charlotte Birchfield (Boyd Birchfield) and Marc Neal Lenau.
Robert is also survived by his two sisters, Lona Yohe (Gary Yohe) and Jean Louise Tompkins (T.J. Thompkins).
Robert’s nieces and nephews survive Lea Yohe and John Robert Thompkins. His grandchildren survive Jennifer Brown, Jared Brown, Bryce Birchfield, Brianna Birchfield and Lance Lenau. His precious great granddaughter Peyton Brown is in second grade and she loves reading just like her grandfather.
Robert began farming 12 hours a day when he was 10 years old. He loved the outdoors and “growing things.” He was also an avid reader with a good memory and a deep thirst for knowledge of all Kinds.
Robert was a dedicated listener of KOPN Community Radio and when asked to be a member of the news board, he accepted. He had heard Linda Lou’s “Missouri’s Legislative Choices, Ethics in Action” programs supported by the Columbia Boone Country League of Women Voters and liked her voice. She was the station’s first News Director. They worked together on a grant from the Catholic Church that focused on the legal problems facing farmers who were losing their farms because of debt. Robert helped with the farm news programs and also hosted a Reggae music program at KOPN.
In solidarity with the farmers in Nicaragua, Robert traveled with American farmers to Nicaragua for three weeks to investigate the things these farmers needed. When he returned to Missouri, Linda Lou organized a live press conference with other Missouri journalists over the airwaves of KOPN. Robert asked for donations of seeds and tools to send to Nicaraguan farmers. U.S. farmers sent a caravan of trucks to Nicaragua to deliver these supplies.
Robert also received help from KOPN Radio when he found out Farmland was planning to build a CAFO for hogs just southwest of his Monroe county property. He researched papers from the Missouri Rural Crisis Center, which indicated that Farmland intended to take over the hog raising business in Monroe county. KOPN held a “call in” farm program regarding the CAFO, but farmland, based in Kansas City, arranged a hearing before the Monroe County commission. A group of young farmers who came to the meeting became hostile and threatened to “shoot those hogs/” Farmland decided they “would not go where they were not wanted.”
Robert was not only an activist bringing justice, but also a sharp businessman. He had filled out papers for farming since he became a farmer. He also figured out his own taxes as soon as he was allowed to. After he purchased the 169 acres on the Missouri River, he established the LLC Katfish Katy Campground on farmland that occasionally flooded. But the land needed no additives for corn and his first crop was astounding.
After his wife became a realtor, she located about 300 acres near the Missouri River for a a couple who were ready to buy 60 acres. Robert told her, “I have always wanted to build a subdivision.” While another couple considered buying the property, Robert spent two years making pictures of the land and planning the layout. He applied for funding from four Columbia banks with no luck. A former student at the University now working at a St. Louis bank approved a loan for the first part of the subdivision of Terrapin Hills. The final part of the subdivision was easily financed because it included several lots overlooking the Missouri River. Three years later the main roads were blacktopped. The last and largest of the 45 lots was sold in 2020.
The members of Terrapin Hills Neighborhood Association have unanimously voted to approve a granite bench by the pond in the neighborhood park. It will read” “In Honor of Robert Stewart Brown 1952-2021 Designer and Developer of Terrapin Hills neighborhood.”
A memorial service honoring Robert Stewart Brown will be held on his birthday Friday, October 8th at the Memorial Gardens of the Unitarian Universalist Church 2615 Shepard, Columbia, MO 65201. Robert joined the Unitarian Universalist Church of Columbia in 2016.