After nearly two decades, David Brown recently retired from the Sumner County School Board, where he represented the 11th district. He was on the school board for 18 years and began his tenure when Benny Bills was superintendent.
Brown’s family goes back five generations in Westmoreland. He was born and raised there and graduated from Westmoreland High School in 1955 where he was one of two male cheerleaders and also played sports for WHS.
After graduation he attended MTSU, and while his brothers and sister went into education, he decided against it because he was concerned about how difficult it would be to make a living. At that time, teachers only made $245 a month, which made it very hard to provide for a family, he said.
In 1968, Brown started a career as a food broker - a sales representative for a food company. He worked for three different companies over the years and was very successful at his work so much so that eventually, he went into business for himself.
He recalls his most notable accomplishment during that particular work was helping coordinate deliveries to help the flood victims and others in need during Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans in 2005.
“Out of my selling experience and my gifts and talents, what few there are, I think that’s one of the greatest sales I ever made because it was helping people,” Brown said.
He and his colleagues were able to orchestrate the project and he even went himself to New Orleans to help disperse 75,000 cases of peanuts. The peanuts were delivered there at cost, which was later paid for by FEMA to the supplier. The truck drivers, delivery people, and all those involved in the delivery did this at no charge because people were hurting, Brown said.
“I went down there and knew we had to help those people. It was a feat to pull that project together and not getting anyone killed,” Brown said.
However, Brown had already been a member of the school board for a couple of years at that time.
“The chairman of the Sumner County Commission called me and wanted to have lunch,” Brown said. At that lunch, the chairman asked him to run for a seat on the board. “I told him, if you want me to run, I’ll run and I won about 55 percent total vote.”
Over the years, Brown has been a part of major decisions made by the school board.
“The pay scale we had granted (I’m proud to say), in the last five years, we have approved a 3 percent increase per year. In other states you’ll see teachers walking and striking, but Tennessee wasn’t a part of that. Now that doesn’t mean there’s not more work to be done though,” Brown said.
Brown believes that politics should be kept out of the school system and just let the teachers do their jobs.
Tears come to his eyes when he talks about the children in his district.
“I love kids. What’s going to happen to them? That’s all we’ve got left– and for them to have the best training they can possibly have and be safe while they’re doing it,” Brown said.
The board approved security guards for many of the schools, but Brown says it’s still not enough. Under his watch, addendum rooms were added on to the entrances of the school buildings where you have to push a button to be admitted into a front lobby before entering where staff and children are located.
Brown will be 82-years-old next week and when asked what he will do now that he’s retired he said, “I’m going to mow the grass and stay active and I have grandkids to keep up with.”
Sadly, he lost his wife of 38 years, Rose Marie Brown, last October.
“She was perfect. We had a great life. We went to every big city in the United States,” Brown said. He and Rose had two children together and Brown had three children from a previous marriage as well. In keeping with the education theme in their family, their son Doug, is an assistant principal at Shafer Elementary in Gallatin, and his son Chris, works in IT for the school system.
Brown seems pleased to be where he is at this point in life.
“You do the best you can. That’s all you can do. If you believe in God the father, Jesus Christ and you yourself have been before him and asked forgiveness, you’re saved. There’s nothing else left,” Brown added.