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Overland Park man's colorful life remembered in creative obit

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"Rabble-rouser," "afflicted children," and "well-earned demise," are words people might not expect to hear when remembering William C. Brown. "Rabble-rouser," "afflicted children," and "well-earned demise," are words people might not expect to hear when remembering William C. Brown.
OVERLAND PARK, KS (KCTV) -

For many, there is nothing happy about writing an obituary let alone funny, but a much-loved Overland Park father wasn't like most people and neither is his family.

"Rabble-rouser," "afflicted children," and "well-earned demise," are words people might not expect to hear when remembering William C. Brown.

But for someone who lived outside the lines for 91 years it took a little creativity to sum up his colorful life.

It starts as soon as one walks in the door, the kind of laughter people can tell has generations of inheritance behind it.

"And we can't help it," Beckie Brown said.

Her brother, Bernard Brown, added, "there's no surgery for it."

For the family's eight siblings, it was mostly owed to their dad, a man with a sense of humor even airport security guards remembered.

Beckie Brown recalls one woman remembering him singing a song ending with a raspberry noise.

"It's true! I mean can you imagine how many zillions of people came through there, and they would remember my dad," she said.

"You would know it if he came through," added Bernard Brown.

Now that their father has passed on, there was only one way to see him off.

"Bill Brown, a/k/a William C. Brown, finally stopped bugging everybody on Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013," Bernard read from his father's obituary. "Right to the end, at age 91, he would do things like pushing fist bumps at perfect strangers."

"Martha 'Ruth' Walker began putting up with him when they married in 1945," another son, Charles Brown, read from another paragraph. "They moved to Overland Park in 1952 and raised eight afflicted children."

"Everybody will tell you if you knew our dad, if you didn't write something funny that was playful banter and causing trouble, it wouldn't have been about him," Bernard Brown said.

But their father was about a lot more than that too. He served in the Navy during World War II.

"He really fought and lived for really high ideals," Bill Brown's daughter, Mary Ellen Legay, said.

Beckie Brown read from another section of the obituary, "he pestered his children and others until they suffered by thinking and feeling deeply about others and all kinds of meaningful things."

"He had a really active intellect and he told us, be interested in everything," Charles Brown said.

So when Bernard Brown sat down to sum up his dad's life, it was with a little mischief in mind, but also honor for a depth of character everyone could all learn from.

"He was a nut case, but also a lot of that was also, he thought independently and deeply," Bernard Brown said. "He came from a generation where people would spend time with deeper thinking and deeper feeling and he felt things keenly, he was a very emotional guy."

The family's emotion is clear now too, mixed in with the laughter.

"Yeah we got both in a big way, the fun, the music, the thinking, and the pain of loss with him gone," Bernard Brown said.

Along with his eight children, Bill Brown leaves 12 grandchildren behind.

The family said it was their mission to pass on that special mix of humor, commitment and character through the generations.

The visitation for Bill Brown was Monday night. His memorial service is at 10 a.m. Tuesday at Queen of the Holy Rosary Church in Overland Park.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the Ursuline Sisters of Mount St. Joseph.

As the obituary states, "they put up with Bill and all a long time, and have too little for their retirement." 

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