‘It’s the end of an era’: Marble mayor Wayne R. Brown dies at 76
GSPI Managing Editor
Wayne R. Brown, the gruff, no-nonsense mayor of Marble, died at his home Saturday, after spending a couple of days in the hospital. He was 76.
A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. on Wednesday at the Marble Community Church with the Rev. Linda Arocha-Boylan officiating. Cremation has taken place, and the remains will be scattered by his family at a later date.
“Wayne was an engineer, and the things other people got vexed by, he would get done,” said Vince Savage, who served on the Marble town board with Brown.
Brown put his expertise and connections to work to get two bridges built in Marble, to stabilize the famous Crystal Mill, and to dredge Slate Creek for flood control.
“He used to work for (the Colorado Highway Department), and he got them to build sturdy concrete bridges across Carbonate Creek and the Crystal River,” recalled Oscar McCollum of Glenwood Springs, a Marble historian.
“Those bridges were built to interstate standards so they’ll carry anything, and it didn’t cost the town a thing. He knew the people who make the decisions,” McCollum said.
“His last and final project was to get enough money for what he called the Main Drag Project, to pave the main drag through town,” said Karen Mulhall, Marble town clerk. “It’s too bad he won’t be around to see it happen. He’ll be directing that project from afar.”
Wayne Brown was born Dec. 11, 1927, in Denver to Ethel Mae Adams and Carroll T. Brown. He spent his childhood in Littleton and graduated from Littleton High School.
He married Marble native Roseanna Brooks on Dec. 26, 1944, in Littleton, and along with her, he married all the lore and landscape of the old quarry town that later became their retirement home.
Mr. Brown served in the Merchant Marines from 1945-46, and was certified in nuclear testing. He spent his career working for the
Colorado Highway Department and retired to Marble in 1983.
He served on the Marble town board, including three terms as mayor. He was appointmented to the position again last year after the previous mayor moved away. Mr. Brown also served as the town clerk in the 1970s, Mulhall said.
Behind the scenes worker
“He liked to make the impression that he was crusty, and he often wore a battered old hat and a scraggly beard,” McCollum said. “He had a good heart, but he was sometimes on the wrong side of an issue, as far as I was concerned. But he did do a lot of good things for the town.”
The bridge projects stand out in most residents’ minds, Mulhall said, but few people know that Brown was the person who got the basketball court built near the fire station.
“He did a lot of stuff behind the scenes,” she said.
“As mayor, he did pretty good at trying to keep everybody happy,” Savage said. “But one of his favorite phrases was, ‘Let’s take this on a case by case basis.’ He wanted to take a personal approach, but that also meant there was no consistency.
“He learned the hard way that trying to please everybody sometimes led to more conflict. He thought people should be able to get along better,” Savage added.
Brown also worked hard, and against the leanings of some of his fellow townsfolk, to build and maintain a good working relationship with the officials of Gunnison County. Marble is the stepchild town in the county, a three-hour drive from the county seat.
That relationship with county leaders in Gunnison helped the town restore the old Marble State Bank Building to be the new Town Hall, and will help get the zig-zagging main drag through town paved this summer.
A friend to many
Mr. Brown was active with the Marble Community Church, and was a member of the Association of State Highway and Transportation Organizations, the Colorado Mental Health Association and the Elks Lodge.
He loved clock making, woodworking, music, hunting and fishing. He dearly loved the history of Marble, and gave dozens of slideshows and talks using photographs from his wife’s family, looking back to Marble of the 1920s and ’30s.
A friend to many, Brown would lend a hand whenever someone ran out of gas, needed a tool or got stuck in a ditch, Savage said.
“Wayne was grisly, fun-loving and a real kidder,” Savage recalled.
When tourists flocked to Marble in the summer months, Brown often carried an old black powder pistol armed with ignition caps. He would pull it out and show it around, careful to say, “Don’t worry, it’s not loaded.” Then someone would inevitably pull the trigger.
“He startled a lot of old ladies that way,” Savage said.
“It’s the end of an era for Marble,” Mulhall added.
Mr. Brown was preceded in death by his wife, Roseanna Brown, on Feb. 23, 1991.
He is survived by sons Mark Brown, David Brown, Daniel Brown and Joseph Brown; by a daughter, Teresa Delaney; by seven grandchildren and numerous great-grandchildren; by a longtime friend, William Fife; and by his pooch, Corky Sherwood.
Farnum-Holt Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Marble Historical Society.
Contact Heather McGregor: 945-8515, ext. 517
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