George K. Brown

July 11, 1925 ‒ January 22, 2010

Marion, Ohio

A pillar of the Marion Community, George King Brown, has proudly carried on his family’s tradition of hard work, leadership, and philanthropy through his constant dedication and charismatic spirit. He would stop at nothing for the betterment of the lives of the people of Marion.

George K. Brown, age 84, of Marion, died late Friday evening, January 22, 2010, at the Marion General Hospital after a period of declining health.

On July 11, 1925, George was born in Marion, Ohio, one of three sons of the late W. Hoover and Ava (King) Brown. He was raised at Etowah, meaning the “Beautiful Place,” also known as Kings Mansion, now the home of Central Christian Church. In 1936, he witnessed his parents founding Wyandot Popcorn in the one room school house, the West Macedonia School, where his father, Hoover, and George’s aunts had once attended.

George was a graduate of Marion Harding High School in the Class of 1943, where he played clarinet in the marching band and helped with the yearbook committee.

Shortly after his graduation, George was drafted into the U. S. Army in October of 1943. Stationed in the European Theatre during World War II, he proudly served his country as a member of the 250th Signal Operation Company for three years. He would remain close with his friends from the Army, by hosting and attending army reunions for a number of years.

Upon his honorable discharge, George attended Purdue University, where he graduated with a degree in General Agriculture in 1950. While there, he met his first love , Mildred “Millie” Purcell, whom he eloped with to marry on January 7, 1949 in Romney, Indiana.

After graduating, George returned to Marion in 1950 to join the family business, Wyandot Popcorn. He joined as a salesman, and traveled the world to further their sale of popcorn. Over the many years he dedicated himself to Wyandot Popcorn, he held many positions including Vice President, President, Chairman of the Board, and most recently Consultant to the President. He retired from his day-to-day work in December of 1992 and from the Board in 1996. His brother Warren also joined the family business in the early 1960’s, running their snack division, Popped Right, which later merged with Wyandot Popcorn to form Wyandot, Inc. This family owned business is still a major player in the snack food industry.

A creative and inspiring philanthropist, George made it his mission to better the lives of people of Marion through the many great organizations he strongly believed in. He had been a member of Rotary and served as President in 1963. He had served as the United Way Campaign Chairman in 1974, President in 1975, and received the United Way “Outstanding Citizenship Award” in 1976. He was chairman of the Marion Public Library Advisory Board, whose efforts led to the successful bond issue and completion of the new library in 1978. George also was a member of the Marion Sales Ad Club, President of the Friends of the Harding Home and Memorial, Board member of the Marion Education Foundation, Board member of Marion Area Partners in Education (MAPE), Board member of CAN DO, Chairman of the Endowment Board for the Marion County Historical Society, member of the Marion Technical College Endowment Campaign Committee, member of the Ohio State University Director’s Council (School of Agriculture), Board member of the Marion Popcorn Festival, and received the Boy Scout’s “Good Scout” Award in 2009. He was one of the key catalysts in raising the capital funds in building and supporting the current Marion YMCA. He has always been a big supporter of the Marion Palace Theatre as well. George truly had a unique way of persuading others to see and believe in his vision.

Proud of his heritage, George founded the Wyandot Popcorn Museum in the mid 1970’s, in an effort to share and preserve the history of the popcorn industry by collecting and restoring the world’s largest assortment of popcorn antiques. George scavengered the world to find the many pieces of history that tells the story of making popcorn.

Through all of his accomplishments and endeavors, one thing always remained constant for George…his first wife, Millie. Millie was George’s best friend and strongest supporter. Together they shared over fifty-five wonderful years of marriage, and lovingly raised five children. She loved to spend her winters in Longboat Key, Florida, where she passed away on February 18, 2004. George and Millie are now together again.

A man of deep faith, George was an active member of the Epworth United Methodist Church, where he had served as Chairman of the Financial Advisory Committee.

Best known for his zest for life, it was often said they should have put George’s face on top of the Energizer Bunny. George truly made the most of every day of his life, squeezing every ounce of fun and enjoyment out of any situation. Even in his 80’s, he would run circles around everyone and he managed to survive three bouts with cancer.

As a world traveler, George explored far and wide to see all of the wonders of the world. Wanting to capture the beauty he witnessed, as an amateur photographer he took countless breathtaking photos. Some of his most amazing photos were taken underwater, as he enjoyed dabbling in underwater photography on his many scuba diving adventures.

A lifelong skier, George looked forward to his yearly ski trips with the Marion Ski Club and with his family.

Getting a second chance at love, George reconnected with Arlene Hill Lawless after her high school reunion in 2004, whom he had dated at the age of 17 and not seen for the past 60 years. Not wasting any time, George proposed that day, and they were married soon thereafter in April of 2005. She has been proudly by his side over the past five years.

George will be dearly missed by his loving wife, Arlene (Hill) Lawless Brown of Marion; five children: Sandy (Lee) Myers of Marion, Sherry (Rick) Kelly of Marion, Crickette (Paul) Brown-Glad of San Mateo, California, Brooks (Amy) Brown of Marion, Christi (Ralph) Holmes of Prospect; twelve grandchildren: Rob (Mandie) Myers, Mandy (Josh) Manner, Danielle and Heather Kelly, Sebastian, Santiago, and Paloma Brown-Glad, Ali and Gabrielle Brown, Mariah Gambill, and Alisa and Andy Holmes; and several nieces and nephews.

In addition to his first wife and parents, George was preceded in death by his two brothers: David and Warren Brown.

The Brown family will greet friends from 4 – 8 p.m. on Wednesday, January 27, 2010, at the Epworth United Methodist Church, 249 E. Center St., Marion. Services celebrating his life will be held there on Thursday at 1:00 p.m., with Pastor Colleen Ogle officiating. Burial with military honors provided by the Marion County United Veterans Coucil will follow in Marion Cemetery.

The Denzer-Farison-Hottinger & Snyder Funeral Home is privileged to serve the family of George King Brown.

In honor of the George and Millie Brown Family Foundation’s favorite charities, Memorial Contributions may be made to Epworth United Methodist Church, Wyandot Popcorn Museum, The Palace Theater, Marion Rotary Foundation, or to the Marion Family YMCA.

For those wishing to express their condolences to George’s family, you may do so by visiting www.snyderfuneralhomes.com.