Boca Raton pioneer, store owner Herbert Brown dies at 96
By Patricia Eddinger Jakubek
Boca Raton Historical Society
BOCA RATON — Herbert Brown, 96, a Boca Raton pioneer who came to the city with his family at the time of the Depression and operated Brown’s Sundries for 37 years, died April 18, 2010 at the Indian River Estates Medical Center in Vero Beach.
He was born in St. Louis and had lived in Vero Beach since 2005.
When the Depression hit the United States, the Brown family lost their decorating business in St. Louis. Relatives living in Miami urged them to come to Florida.
Harry and Florence Brown along with their two sons, Herb and George, made their way to Boca Raton, becoming the first Jewish family in the city. The Brown family embraced the small community, and in turn were loved and respected citizens contributing much to the development of the town which, at the time, had a population of 300.
They rented and remodeled a small building on the northwest corner of Federal Highway and Royal Palm Road, and by August, 1931, Brown’s Sundries opened for business. The business grew and thrived for 37 years — through the Depression and the war years, through the 1950s and into the late 1960s.
Carl Douglas, son of pioneer Lucas Douglas, and Herb were good friends, joining the service at the same time. An official car came from West Palm Beach to pick them up at Town Hall. They were sworn in and driven back to West Palm Beach for processing.
As they pulled away, the siren in the cupola at Town Hall sounded in honor of their service to their country. Herb became a veteran of World War II, serving as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army.
As the little town changed, so did Brown’s Sundries. During the 1940s it became Brown’s Restaurant, a lovely restaurant and bar with affordable and delicious food. With several expansions it kept up with the growing economy and was sold to “Big Daddy’s” in 1968.
Herb changed professions, going from restaurant owner to associate realtor with Wm J. Day Realty. He liked making his own hours, leaving time for his favorite hobbies: golf and gin rummy.
In a late 1970s interview with historian Jackie Waldeck, Herb reminisced, “Boca Raton was an enjoyable town in which to live. Nobody had any money. No one was envious of anyone else. There were no problems with the kids as there are today — no drugs. I was never bored; there was always something going on. For a kid growing up it was a good, happy, wholesome life here in Boca Raton.”
Survivors include his wife, Jacquelyn Brown of Vero Beach; son, Buddy Dawson of Vero Beach; daughter, Frances Rose Marshall of Florence, Ala.; four grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his brother.
Visitation will be from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. April 23, 2010 at the Cox-Gifford-Seawinds Funeral Home, Vero Beach.
He will be transferred to the Elkins Funeral Home in Florence for final services and interment in Florence City Cemetery.
Local arrangements are by Cox-Gifford-Seawinds Funeral Home and Crematory, Vero Beach. A guest book is available at www.seawindsfh.com/obit.php.
The Vero News contributed to this article