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A member of the Board of Trustees from 1975 to 1990, Roland Brown Sr. ’49 died Jan. 4 at the age of 80. He was honored in 2001 at the inaugural Student-Alumni Banquet held by the Association of Black Collegians, which founded the Roland M. Brown ’49 Award for Outstanding Service to the Community, given to someone “who has significantly helped improve the quality of life for students of color.”

He was a member of the Tuskegee Airmen, an elite unit of black Army Air Corps pilots who distinguished themselves during World War II. He joined the Army in April 1943 and received training as a bombardier-navigator. Brown and David Showell ’51were assigned to the 332nd Fighter Group, which never lost any of the bombers it escorted to enemy fighters, according to the web page of Tuskegee Airmen, Inc., a group of Tuskegee veterans. They were part of the 447th Medium Bombardment Group, which flew B-25 bombers in preparation for combat against Japanese forces, but never had the chance because of racism, according to Brown. At one point in the war, he was stationed at Fort Knox, Ky. He attained the rank of 2nd Lieutenant. He retired from the Air Force Reserves at age 60 with the rank of Major.

Before earning a degree in electrical engineering at Lafayette, Brown attended Drew University in fall 1946 and spring 1947. He received a master’s in electrical engineering from Newark College of Engineering. He served as a professional engineer with the United States Army Command at Fort Monmouth, N.J., for 30 years while advancing through the upper levels of the organization. He retired in 1981.

He was an avid golfer, learning the game from his father, Dewey Brown, the first known black member of the Professional Golf Association and the assistant golf pro at Shawnee on the Delaware, the famous Poconos resort where Lafayette played its home matches before the war. Roland Brown Sr. won many tournaments and played with professionals such as Lee Elder, Charlie Sifford, and Teddy Rhodes.

Brown served as president of the Flagler County Afro-American Caribbean Heritage Organization in Florida.

He was predeceased by his wife, Mary Lily Davis Brown; brother, Dewey Brown Jr.; and parents. He is survived by his son, Roland Brown Jr.; daughter, Gloria Brown Simmons; grandson, Roland Simmons; brother and sister-in-law, Edward Brown and Catherine Brown; sister-in-law, Barbara Brown; and sister-in-law and brother-in-law, Julia Dawson and Robert Dawson Sr.

Categorized in: Alumni Profiles