Neil C. Brown, Jr, 87, of Delmar, passed peacefully at home on August 7, 2020 surrounded by his loving family.
Born in Ballston Spa, NY, he was the son of the late Neil C.Brown and Ethel (Sherman) Brown. He graduated as Salutatorian from Ballston Spa High School in 1950. Neil attended the N.Y. State Teachers College in Albany and graduated as an honor student, earning a B.A. degree in Mathematics and Physical Sciences in June, 1954. Neil also earned a Master’s Degree and had been a Doctoral Candidate at Columbia University. He served in Student Government and as President of the Student Association in his senior year at SUNYA.. During this time, he worked with faculty members to purchase 800 acres of prime Adirondack woodland to be used as an off-campus recreation and learning center for students, alumni and faculty. It was named Dippikill and remains a valued part of the University today.
After college, Neil acquired a job teaching science at the Guilderland High School, where
he met the love of his life, Rosemary, a young math teacher. He said he loved the “snap,
crackle, pop” in her beautiful eyes. Neil and Rosemary were married on December 30, 1961 and
honeymooned in Hawaii. They were married for 58 years.
He returned to SUNY Albany and became the Dean of Students. He took special interest
in leading the development of orientation programs, residential life, student life and activities,
including Five Quad Volunteer Student Ambulance Service. In the 1970’s, his belief that higher
education was for all students led him to explore accessibility issues for students with disabilities
on the campus. Neil spent a week using a wheelchair to “see life from others’ perspective.”. He
discovered doors were too heavy to be opened, water fountains and elevator buttons needed to
be lowered, as students in wheelchairs couldn’t use them. Neil was a strong advocate for
change and accessibility on all levels. He worked with other administrators and ensured these
necessary modifications were put into place on the campus.
In the summer of 1989, Neil accepted the position of Vice President of Student Affairs
at SUNY Cobleskill where he continued to promote improvements to residence halls, orientation
for new students, introduced computer access to residence rooms and to faculty offices and
encouraged students to have a presence at local county fairs and the New York State Fair for
the purpose of college recruitment. He remained at SUNY Cobleskill until his retirement in 1995.
He was an educator in every sense of the word, as a parent, teacher, administrator,
colleague or friend. It was a life-long goal to serve and mentor young people, to help them
succeed and reach their full potential. His philosophy was that all people deserve dignity and
respect. Whether working with college students as Dean Brown or teaching piano to
elementary and middle-school aged children where he was affectionately known as “Mr. B”, Neil
made a positive difference in countless young people’s lives and futures. He earned the respect
of those who knew him for his dedication to education and students.
Since the age of 4, Neil could be found playing piano. He became a professional
musician while still in his teens and remained an active performer through his 80’s. He often
reminisced about his experiences from playing piano at resorts in the Catskills and at Saratoga
gala events in the summers. He enjoyed entertaining with fellow musicians in night clubs, at
public and private celebrations and in nursing homes where he brought joy to residents
throughout the holidays. He served the Albany Musicians Union Local #14 in a variety of roles,
including President for a decade.
Neil was an accomplished negotiator. He held a vital role when supporting the Albany
Symphony with their contracts and was a stabilizing force on the SUNY Albany campus during
the Vietnam conflict. When other administrators had vacated to off-campus locations, he
continued to maintain communication with all students, including those leading protests,
listening to them and encouraging peaceful solutions to their concerns
He was very proud of his beloved children and grandchildren, not only for their
accomplishments, but for who they are as people. Family vacations to Cape Cod, supporting
and giving them advice, attending their sporting events and concerts were treasured moments
for him. Being a Dad and Grandfather were his most valued roles in life.
He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Rosemary (Stauble) Brown; daughters Kathleen
(Jim Molinara) Mantaro, MD of Poughkeepsie, Michelle (Stephen Keyer) Brown-Keyer of
Albany, Suzanne (Jim) Gill of Poughkeepsie and son, Matthew (Kate Potvin-Brown) Brown of
Slingerlands; and 4 granddaughters: Megan and Emily Mantaro and Julia and Jacqueline Gill.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made in Neil’s name to:
The Albany Symphony Orchestra
19 Clinton Ave, Albany, NY, 12207 or
St. Jude Foundation
Services at this time are private.
A Celebration of Life for family, friends and colleagues is planned for the summer of 2021.