Robert H Brown
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Devoted husband, father, grandfather and teacher
WATERBURY - Robert "Bobby" Brown, coach, teacher, union officer, and political strategist died on Sunday November 28, 2021 at St. Mary's Hospital after a brief illness.
Bobby was a well-known Waterbury athlete, coach, and sports official who first made his presence known on the baseball fields of Waterville and Waterbury in the 1950s and 60s. During his sandlot and scholastic baseball career he was a catcher, infielder and outfielder for many area teams including the Waterville Red Sox, the Waterville Red Wings, St. Michael's CYO, and Husson College in Bangor, Maine among many others. During his college and post-college baseball career he was the battery mate to his brother Charlie of Watertown whose pitching prowess led Charlie to an even more stellar career on the same ballfields. Bobby had the privilege of catching some of Waterbury's greatest pitchers of the era in addition to Charlie including Dave Wallace, Ron Diorio, Gary McKenna, and Bob Guerrera all of whom pitched professionally.
His favorite baseball memory was hitting a line drive double off of future Los Angeles Dodger Burt Hooton while playing with Napps at the 1968 Stan Musial World Series in Battle Creek, Michigan. He and his close friend Leo Bonicki later coached the Waterville Community Club Mickey Mantle League team to an undefeated season and a berth in the Mickey Mantle World Series in Dallas, Texas in 1978.
From 1968 to 1980, Bob was the head basketball coach at Crosby High School helping to shepherd the Old Ivy as it was called then, from its gold-brick building on East Main Street to the new Crosby Palace on Pierpont Road in 1974. Along with his dear friends John Faraci and Nick Augelli, the three of them put the building blocks in place for Crosby to become a regional and state basketball power.
In 1974, Bobby's team led by Waterbury's all-time scoring leader at the time, Stevie Johnson, won the city and NVL championships before falling to long-time nemesis Warren G. Harding High of Bridgeport in the CIAC tournament quarterfinals. That Bulldog quintet averaged more than 100 points a game for the first half of the season where they regularly played in front of sell-out crowds at the 2300-seat Palace. His teams were "Showtime" before anybody ever heard of "Showtime."
The following season, returning most of his championship squad, Bobby's Bulldogs beat state powerhouse Weaver High led by future NBA champion Rick Mahorn in overtime while a blizzard raged outside the Palace. Never backing down from a challenge Crosby also battled to an overtime loss against Lee High of New Haven which was led by future New York Knick Sly Williams. That year Lee beat Weaver for the Class LL state title while Crosby fell again to Harding in the state semifinals at the New Haven Coliseum. Harding was led by future NBA stars Wes Matthews and John Bagley, and UConn star Mike McKay. Bobby's Crosby team was led by Johnson, Pete Anton, Horace "Piggy" Williams, Steve Zaskiewicz, and Dave Wiggins. Crosby won the NVL title again in 1977-78 behind Lou Martelli, Mark White, Paul Swift, and Jeff Mitchell.
Bobby was proud to have coached with Nick Augelli as his assistant for all of the 70s and Nick took the Crosby program to even greater heights over the next four decades. Nick was always quick to acknowledge Bob's contributions to the basketball program as his mentor and he continued to talk basketball with Bob at their daily coffee klatches at Joe Petta's bagel shop on Leavenworth Street each morning until Bob became too ill to attend this past fall.
Bob was a typing, accounting, and business law teacher at Crosby from 1965 until 1999. Bob would regularly be approached on the street or on social media by former students who thanked him for helping them to become successful in their chosen careers. He was a task master, but he always cared about his students and worked to bring out the best in them even when they didn't know they had it in themselves.
During his career he served as business department chair at Crosby and also was an officer of the Waterbury Teachers Association and the Waterbury Teachers Credit Union with his close friend Jack Cronan for more than 20 years. Bob often spoke with pride about the strikes that he participated in during the early 70s helping to pave the way for significant collective bargaining victories for Waterbury teachers over the ensuing decades. During their tenure Jack and Bobby negotiated some of the most valuable contracts for teachers in the country.
When he was not coaching or teaching, Bob could usually be found running a political campaign for a Waterbury Democrat seeking election to the Mayor's office or the state house. A longtime Democrat party stalwart who briefly slipped over to the dark side later in his career - he was imperfect as must be acknowledged - he worked on and helped run campaigns for Waterbury mayors Edward D. "Mike" Bergin, Michael Jarjura, and Neil O'Leary. Affectionately referred to as "the Coach" by Mayor Jarjura, Bobby was instrumental in helping Mayor Jarjura become the first candidate in Connecticut history to win a major city mayoral race as a write-in candidate in 2005.
In 1984 he was a delegate to the Democatic National Convention where he cast his vote for the ill-fated candidacy of Walter "Fritz" Mondale. He was at the Waterbury Green in November of 1960 when then Senator John F. Kennedy visited Waterbury at 4 a.m. on his way to the presidency in nail-biting fashion over Richard Nixon days later.
Bob was passionate about caring for his family and friends. While he could be rough around the edges at times, his loyalty to his family, friends, and his favorite causes could not be questioned. If you were his friend or a former student, you could always count on Bob. Years after his teaching days ended he was still helping former students to find a job, or helping one of their kids get into college.
Bob took great pride and pleasure in the accomplishments of his sons, grandchildren,
nieces and nephews. He coached many of the youth baseball and basketball teams for his sons.
As a grandfather, he was sure to be on the sidelines for games and in the audience for musical
performances. Holidays and family gatherings were a time when he could tell his favorite stories
about Waterville and time spent coaching or playing sports.
Robert H. "Bobby" Brown was born in Waterbury on November 29, 1942 to Harold S. and Mary (Stack) Brown, and he grew up in Waterville. He graduated from Sprague School in 1956, Crosby High in 1960, and Husson College in Bangor, Maine with a bachelor's degree in 1964. He later went on to receive a master's degree and sixth year certificate from Central Connecticut State University.
He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Anne (Donofrio) Brown and his twin sons Attorney Eric Brown and his wife Adrienne (Maffeo) of Watertown; and Christopher and his wife JoAnn (Farley) of Cheshire. In addition he leaves behind his only brother Charlie and his wife Elizabeth (Betty) of Watertown; his brother-in-law Rocco Donofrio of Waterbury; and his brother-in-law and sister-in-law Paul and Gilda Pernerewski of Waterbury. Bob had five grandchildren whom he cherished as much as anyone on this earth including Patrick Brown and Brian Brown of Cheshire; Army Spc. Kevin Brown of Fort Benning, Georgia; and Natalie Brown of Watertown. He also leaves behind multiple nieces and nephews to cherish his memory.
Funeral services for Mr. Brown will be held on Thursday, December 2, 2021 when a Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10:00 a.m. at St. John the Evangelist Church 745 Main St Watertown. Those planning to attend are asked to meet directly at the church. Burial will follow in Calvary Cemetery Waterbury. Relatives and friends may visit with Bob's family on Wednesday December 1, 2021 from 3:00 till 6:00 p.m at Casey's Eastside Memorial Funeral Home and Cremation Services, 1987 East Main Street @ Southmayd Rd, Waterbury. To honor Bob's memory donations to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation or the Boys and Girls Clubs of Waterbury would be greatly appreciated by his family. Memories last only if you share them, so you are encouraged to leave a condolence, words of comfort or personal memory with the Brown family on Bob's tribute page at www.eastsidememorial.com.