Elder Victor L. Brown 'a man of vision, faith'

Elder Victor L. Brown was remembered at funeral services March 30 as a man of vision, faith, love, service and administrative ability.

President Gordon B. Hinckley and his two counselors in the First Presidency, President Thomas S. Monson and President James E. Faust, each spoke at the services for Elder Brown, who served as Presiding Bishop from 1972 to 1985. Granted emeritus status in 1989, Elder Brown died March 26 at his home after a lengthy illness. (Please see March 30 Church News.)Also speaking was his eldest son, Victor L. Brown Jr.

Attending the funeral at the Salt Lake Eagle Gate Stake Center were many of the General Authorities, family members and associates of Elder Brown in business and other aspects of life. His wife, Lois Ashton Kjar Brown, preceded him in death.

President Hinckley mused on how remarkable it is "to think of the journey this man has made from little Cardston [Alberta] to become a citizen of the world, to walk across the nations of the earth, and do good wherever he went. It's a long, long journey from Cardston to today, and a journey filled with wonderful and challenging experiences."

The prophet noted Elder Brown began his work as a reservations clerk with United Airlines. "And it's very much to his honor that his abilities were recognized and he moved steadily up into the executive ranks of that great company. But he never lost sight of what it means to be an employee, to do the more menial things of life.

"And that becomes a test of greatness, when all is said and done, if a man becomes of some note in the world and still recognizes, respects, admires and loves those who do the ordinary work of the world."

President Hinckley recalled extending the call to Elder Brown to preside over the Salt Lake Temple in 1985. "It was a marked change for him. He had been dealing with the temporal affairs of the Church."

But the service brought him nearer heaven "where he has now gone," President Hinckley said, and reminded him "as he reminded others, of the eternal nature of life."

While his loss is mourned, Elder Brown's passing is not a day of sadness, President Hinckley remarked. "We share tears over separation, but to be free of pain, to be free of the suffering he experienced is such a marvelous thing. He knew so much of suffering, so much of pain, so much of loneliness, and now, freedom and peace and reunion."

That Christ is the resurrection and the life, and those who believe in Him should never die but should have everlasting life was the essence of Elder Brown's faith, President Hinckley said. "We don't need to worry about Victor Brown. He knew what it was about. . . . The Savior was the polar star of his life, and he's gone to receive that confident `Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Enter into the rest of the Lord.' "

President Monson, in his remarks, said: "Victor Brown was a man for all seasons. I like to describe him as a man of vision."

That included the vision to direct the hospital program of the Church, President Monson said, and to ensure that people were cared for and treated properly, whether in Salt Lake City or in a rural community.

President Monson said Elder Brown's vision encompassed setting up Church distribution systems, translation and temporal affairs over the world, "and he and Elder J. Thomas Fyans were constant traveling companions in that endeavor."

"He was a man of vision in the welfare effort," President Monson said. "And aided by Quinn Gardner and others, he set up storehouses, where we little dreamed storehouses would be. He had the vision to anticipate the growth and to make the plans."

His vision with the Young Men and Young Women programs of the Church meant he made certain that the attention the Young Women received was equal to "or maybe a shade better" than that received by the Young Men, President Monson commented.

Elder Brown was also a man of courage, President Monson said. "At his level decisions are not easy decisions and it takes courage to take a stand on an issue. But he never hesitated in taking a stand. Victor Brown was right down the line, dead center on the right side. He knew what he should do and he had the courage to do it.

"He was a man of service. He also wanted to serve the Lord. When he first realized he had cancer he sat with me in my office and said: Tom, I have cancer, very serious. But I want you to know that I'm ready to do whatever the Lord wants. If the Lord wants to call me home I'm ready. If he wants me to serve this plan in this capacity, I'm ready.' As I gave him a blessing, I remember the phrase came to my mind:Victor, you are in the palm of the hand of the Lord. He will bless you.'

"He was a family man. Oh, how he loved his family. Everything they did was a great joy to him," President Monson said.

"If I were to say a word to characterize Bishop Brown, it was his desire to be together with the ones he loves and the ones he cherished," continued President Monson. He then spoke of Elder Brown's service on the Deseret News board of directors, of which President Monson has served for many years as chairman.

" `Together' was his watchword. Service was his code. Humility was his nature. And love, love was his supreme characteristic."

President Faust praised Elder Brown as a man of exceptionally sound judgment and wisdom, extraordinary administrative skills and great vision.

"His spirituality enhanced those skills throughout his long and productive life," he said. He said Elder Brown was a member of the executive committee of Western Airlines Board of Directors and the catalyst of many decisions that were made to retrieve Western from the edge of insolvency in the merger with Delta Airlines and the creating of the Delta hub in Salt Lake City.

Quoting Lawrence Lee, former Western president and chief executive officer, President Faust recounted that when then-Bishop Brown joined the airline board in 1974, a member of the board, movie actor Cary Grant, asked Bishop Brown how he would like to be addressed.

" Just Vic' was the answer. Cary Grant did not feel quite comfortable and was respectful of the position Victor held in the Church. Cary began to address him asVic, Your Eminence.' Pres. Lee said Cary was correct. When Bishop Brown attended the board meetings, there was an eminence around him. It was not just his prominent stature but his manner that set him apart."

Referring to Bishop Brown's responsibilities in the Presiding Bishopric, President Faust said: "The temporal responsibility under the First Presidency of all the buildings, the administration of the Church Welfare Department, as well as involvement in the budgeting and financial affairs of the Church is a very heavy responsibility indeed."

President Faust said during the time Elder Brown was a member of the Presiding Bishopric, the Church made great strides internationally. "Distribution was set up in many countries: the scriptures, Church directives, the curriculum, correspondence had to be translated into many languages as did the international magazines. This required Bishop Brown and his associates to identify men of talent and faith to assist them in their vast and growing responsibility, and many of those men are here in this audience today."

He said Elder Brown had an exceptional eye for ability in others. "As he went about the world he treated the employees with great respect, kindness and gentleness.

Elder Brown's son, Victor L. Brown Jr., addressed his remarks to his father's posterity. Brother Brown said his father loved four things especially: "He loved Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ as one, because they are one. He loved the temple profoundly and deeply. He loved Grandma Brown and us. We must never forget that. And he loved his fellow man, his neighbors."

Regarding Elder Brown's love for the temple, Brother Brown recalled that the emeritus General Authority was invited by the First Presidency to attend the rededication of the Cardston Temple. He said that fulfilled Elder Brown's life because he returned to the place where he had been sealed. On that occasion, even though he was wheelchair bound, he responded to the wishes of the Brethren to speak at one of the sessions.

"I'll never forget the miracle of Grandpa standing up and walking over to the pulpit in the temple and giving the talk," Brother Brown said.

Serving as president of the Salt Lake Temple from 1985 to 1987 capped the lives of Elder and Sister Brown, the son said. "Their entire life was guided by the covenants they made at baptism and the greater covenants they made in the temple. And those covenants took them through thick and thin."

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