James Robert Brown
Age 84 ● Austin, TX
James Robert Brown – Jim – husband, father, grandfather, friend, musician, and engineer, died peacefully on January 2, 2023 in Round Rock, TX. He was just shy of his 85th birthday.
Jim was born January 11, 1938 in Bartlett, TX to James Preston Brown and Agatha Grace Easterwood Brown. He had one sister, Shirley.
He spent his early years in Central Texas, predominantly in the communities of Bartlett and Davila, surrounded by family from both his mother’s and father’s side. Aunts, uncles, and cousins were central to his world as a child, roaming the roads and fields of rural farmland, doing what boys do. His father owned a service station in Bartlett and was a farmer, prospered in both, despite The Great Depression. Life changed drastically for Jim and his family on February 10, 1945 – the day on which his dad was lost to fighting in Europe. It was an event that would have a long-lasting impact on him, his approach to life, and the man he would ultimately become.
Being forced to grow up too fast in the south side of Midland, Jim became the primary bread winner of the family in his mid-teens, rising to the challenges of the moment. His love of country music and steel guitar, of which he was an accomplished professional musician, provided a lifeline to a family that survived on a meager war-widow’s pension. Jim did whatever was required for his family’s survival.
After graduating from Midland High School in 1956, Jim left Midland for Austin by bus, arriving with little more than a cheap suitcase, a Gibson guitar, what few possessions he had, donning a western-cut suit, moccasins, and a cowboy hat. It was even a bit much for Austin at that time. He didn’t have a plan; he simply knew there was opportunity in education at The University of Texas and in Austin.
In the ensuing years, Jim served his country in the US Army, would finish his degree in mathematics, continued to play steel guitar with notable bands throughout the region – and established a career with Glastron Boat Company, where he was ultimately promoted to Vice President of Engineering. He would finish his career at Gemini Inc. of Cannon Falls, MN, from which he would retire in 2000.
Along the way, Jim met and married Lillian Kunkel, with whom he would have two children, Lisa and Kevin, who would become the focus of his life until the end. Well, his family and his Texas Longhorns. With Lil, Jim would embark on a life-long journey focused on family and the simple things that brought them joy, none of which brought more joy than their grandchildren.
Titles, occupations, and accolades do not capture the enormous impact that Jim had on his family, friends, and loved ones. He was brilliant, funny, warm, loving, honest to a fault, and the most unselfish person we’ve ever known. Those values will continue to be seen in the lives of his children and grandchildren, as they carry his legacy.
Jim was preceded in death by his wife of almost 55 years, Lil; his sister Shirley Bell; and parents. He is survived by his two children – Lisa Welge (Bert), and Kevin (Hadra); three grandchildren, Emily Pomfret, Elizabeth Hinds, and Jack Brown; as well as numerous nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends.
Funeral Services will be conducted at Elgin Funeral Home, Saturday, January 7th at 10:00 AM. Interment will follow at McDade Cemetery.