Friends and family gathered in John Brown University’s Kresege Dining Hall to commemorate the lifelong service of John Brown III. On Oct. 23, Siloam Spring’s Chamber of Commerce awarded Brown with the Outstanding Civic Leader award.
Awarded by friends and family of the Siloam Springs community, this award provides tangible proof of the former president’s servant-heartedness to both his grandfather’s namesake University as well as to his community.
His service projects include serving on a northwest Arkansas council for educational improvement, the Kiwanis Club, CEO and president of Windgate, and many other organizations dedicated to the furthering of education for disadvantaged students such as high school dropouts.
Those that came to speak out on behalf of his character include Coach John Sheehy, Mark Simmons, Siloam Springs Mayor David Allen, and his own daughter Jenny Benson. Each told stories about the integrity, quirky sense of humor, lifeguarding years in his short red shorts, generosity, kindness and dedication.
The mayor also named Oct. 23 as John Brown III Day to commemorate the servanthood of the former president.
Brown said that receiving the award was just “an overwhelming experience.”
“I really don’t deserve this, folks. I do have a few flaws. Not many, but a few,” he added with customary humor.
As a man, Brown has served in many different roles. Not only did he come from a family of four sisters, he also had four daughters to add to one son. Politically, he served for two terms as the Arkansas State Senator and attended college with Bill Clinton at the University of Arkansas Law.
Despite the fact that he came from a staunchly Democratic family, Brown served Arkansas on the Republican ballot, to which his mother claimed that it would take her birthing one to actually vote for a Republican.
Students in college during his presidency had a few things to say about Brown.
Mary Nolan, class of 1976 and the now director of the Siloam Spring’s Children Center, said, “We were so excited when he became president. We just related so much more easily to him because of his youth.”
James Barnett, who studied Business Law under Brown, said, “He was a very good, factual teacher with an excellent dry humor, and a fair grading system.”
Students now have Brown to thank for the Honors College on campus, the “new” wing of Mayfield and the Walton Lifetime Health Complex among other projects.
The Chamber of Commerce acknowledged the privilege and honor of being blessed by the efforts of John Brown III and expressed that his mark on the city will be remembered for years to come.