Frank O. Brown Jr., 94

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Frank Osborne Brown Jr., an accomplished scientist, engineer, college and high school educator and community activist who served the Berkeley and Oakland communities for over 50 years, passed away on the evening of May 19, in Berkeley.

 

Born on June 25, 1920 in Winston Salem, North Carolina to a family of three boys and two girls, he was raised by his father Frank Brown Senior and his mother Bertha.

 

Brown was an excellent student in elementary school and was top of his high school graduating class. In 1938, he entered West Virginia State College in the School of Engineering.

 

In his junior year, he joined the Theta Chapter of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity. In 1942, he graduated Magna Cum Laude, embarking on a long career in science, education and political activism.

 

On his bus trip to college, he met his future bride, Louise W. Brown. Their college relationship blossomed and on June 11, 1941, after Frank’s graduation, they sneaked away to Florence, South Carolina where they were married.

 

On June 11 of last year, they celebrated their 73rd wedding anniversary.

 

Taking a job in the Chicago area, he and his wife traveled to Chanute Air Base where he was the lead electronic designer and flight engineering instructor for the B-29 bomber during World War II.

 

While at the base, he helped train the Tuskegee Airmen and wrote their flight training manual.

 

In the early 50s, Brown and his family moved to California, where he engineering staff at Vactronics in Oakland, the first company in the country to design and mass produce television picture tubes.

 

He received a teaching appointment at Stockton College (now the University of the Pacific). He was the first African American hired to the teaching staff and was the first African American professor of the college.

 

In the early 60s, he started teaching high school students in Oakland. He joined the teaching staff of Castlemont High School where he remained for over 36 years.

 

His passion was to teach math and electronics to young African American high school students because he strongly believed that technology might become the economic wave of the future.

 

In the late Sixties, he founded the South Berkeley Development Corporation, which built the Savo Island Housing Project with 57 community cooperative condominiums.

 

Those condominiums remain today on Adeline Street in Berkeley.

 

He co-chaired a task force that was successful in getting the BART Transit System routed underground throughout Berkeley.

 

During that same period, he co-chaired the South Berkeley Social Action Committee, which was successful in recruiting the Berkeley Bowl Market to its current Oregon Street location.

 

Brown also served as president of the Berkeley Branch of the NAACP for over 40 years and as the President Emeritus of the branch until his passing.

 

Brown is survived by his sister Leatha Brown Ridley; his son, Dr. Frank O. Brown, III; 
 his grandsons Jonathan Ryan Brown and Sheldon David Brown; His daughter-in-law, Twila Brown; his grand daughter-in-law, Ashley Hammer Brown; And his god-daughter Ms. Diane Harris.

 

The family requests that all Memorial Contributions be made to the Berkeley Branch of the NAACP.

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