Gene Arnold Brown, 91 of Dayton, Texas passed through this life on 10/15/2023. Born 5/10/1932, to RC and Genevieve Stoesser Brown of Dayton. Gene was a lifelong resident of Dayton. He graduated from Dayton High School in 1950. He was an outstanding athlete and an active member of the Dayton FFA Chapter. His father, RC Brown was the first professional ball player from Dayton (pitcher for the Humble Exporters and the Beaumont Oilers) and the first State Champion UIL player in Dayton high school (shot put). Each of his brothers were also outstanding athletes. He was always proud to talk about their football history. His “baby brother” as he referred to Don, played for University of Houston and was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams with the 20th pick in the 1959 NFL draft but immediately traded for Ollie Matson of the Chicago Cardinals. This trade was significant, as he was one of nine players traded for Matson. After the Cardinals, he had a brief stint with the Green Bay Packers with under head coach Vince Lombardi before returning home to try out for the newly formed Houston Oilers, where he ended his professional career in 1961 after an injury. Gene and Don played against each other in the college all-star game in 1959. Darrell Brown played for A&M under Bear Bryant on the infamous “Junction Boys” Team.
After graduation, Gene played college football at University of Houston as left tackle and tight end. Gene was proud of his Cougars record in football last year, a 13-16-1 all-time record in bowl games. He played in the first bowl game for UH in the Salad Bowl (Jan. 1, 1952): Houston Cougars 26, Dayton Flyers 21 at Montgomery Stadium, Phoenix AZ.
He continued to follow the Cougars football and basketball teams and never missed a game. Wherever he was, there was a ball game playing in his ear, usually on a tractor with an AM radio. He married his high school sweetheart, Luna Bell Favors and began coaching at Smiley high school in 1954-55. They had 2 children, Kathy and Kyle. He joined his Dayton Bronco alumni as coach and history teacher in 1955. While on a hunting trip in Colorado with several of his brothers and friends, his family was killed in an automobile accident along with his sister-in-law and mother-in- law in 1962. He met and married Mary Louise Wilkinson in 1963. She quickly learned to outfish and outhunt any of the men on trips and was always the one the men tried to outcatch or outshoot. Later in life, he enjoyed chauffeuring her in their motorhome with her bass boat all over the US to compete in Bass n’ Gal’ pro tournaments.
He was an avid fisherman and hunter. He and his high school buddy, Elmer Pruitt began farming soybeans with one purpose; making “hunting & fishing money” to support their hobbies. They continued farming one particular piece of land for over 30 years and profits were only for trips in their motorhomes to south Texas and Mexico at a “new” lake called Guerrero. It had no electricity or running water then, but the fish just “jumped in the boat” down there he would say. Many Dayton farmers and businessmen would make the yearly trip down south in caravans to spend 2-3 weeks fishing 200 miles south of the border after harvest season. Most said the whole town shut down for this annual pilgrimage. It was a trip that often was also combined with a mule deer trip in Sanderson, Texas before they moved the caravan south. There was always an army cook tent, large oven, a propane tank and a 8x8’ walk-in cooler from the poultry farm (they also raised 2000 laying hens until the early 80s). These were no ordinary trips. These fishing and hunting trips continued on in the late 80’s until they were held at gunpoint a few times along the way back to the border. The wives finally put a stop to the trips, even though they were as big a fishermen as the men, and never missed the trips. They made other places their favorite fishing spots in Texas.
Gene's rice and soybean farming operation grew when his brothers began to join him in rice, soybeans, milo, and grass farming. They owned and operated 3 grain elevators in Beaumont, Nome and Dayton. Brown Brothers Farms farmed rice in Port Arthur, Dayton, Mont Belvieu, and East Gate, Texas. The grain dryer headquarters was a busy place during harvest season. Watermelons, BBQ, or something was usually available for farmers hauling in grain to store in Brown Brothers Drier. If you grew up in the era that farmers and ranchers maintained the largest industry in the county, you also knew tractors, equipment, and livestock had the right of way and you respected them on the roadways. It was common to see grain trucks hauling grain through the middle of town to one of the driers, along with combines and equipment moving fields. The Rainbow Cafe, Louis’ Cafe, Genes Meat Market, McGinty's Drug, and Franks were the hot spots to find out anything you needed to know.
If you grew up in Dayton you also knew ARG (American Rice Growers Coop) held fish frys or bbq’s to celebrate the farming and ranching families after harvest season. Gene Brown never missed an opportunity to fry fish and loved to have crowds of people fed well. If football was on, that was a top priority. He loved watching his kids and grandkids play sports and show livestock. He was a strong supporter of Dayton FFA and the sports association. He was a kind, big hearted man, but if he said it, he meant it. He never had a filter and you knew exactly where you stood with him. His word and handshake, as with many of his generation,were solid, and you would do well, to do the same.
After retiring from farming, he continued to raise cattle and hay. He enjoyed having his grandkids work alongside him and eventually found the ATV or pickup to be his best view point. He could be found most days on the front porch of the old white farmhouse he and his brothers grew up in shelling pecans. His mother had planted over 50 pecan trees and operated a laying hen house and pecan orchard. He learned how to shell pecans early and that task was one of his favorite pastimes while sitting on his porch listening to ball games. He served on the board of the American Rice Growers as a founding member, a founding board member of Dayton State Bank, a member of Farm Bureau, First Baptist Church of Dayton, Texas Cattlemen’s Association, Dayton Sports Association Alumni member, Dayton Sports Association Hall of Honor, Dayton Pioneer member, University of Houston Former Alumni Sports Association.
He was preceded in death by his parents, his first wife of 11 years-Luna Bell Favors Brown, daughter Catherine Collene Brown-8yrs old and his son Kyle Arnold Brown-6 yrs old, his wife of 52 years-Mary Lousie Wilkinson Brown, his 4 brothers and sister in laws: Roger and Margie, Bernie and Barbara, Darrell and Betty, and Don and Nancy Brown all of Dayton.
He is survived by his children Donnie Brown, Wade Brown and wife Kerry, Jerry Brown and wife Lorraine, Mary Catherine Brown Wilson and husband Ralph, and Gena Brown Hanagriff and husband Roger. Grandchildren Brett Brown, Brent Brown, Rhett Wilson, Boyd Hanagriff, Samuel Hanagriff, and the only granddaughter Audrey Diane Brown Brooks and husband Weston. Numerous nieces and nephews. His parents rooted his faith deeply in God at an early age by example. First Baptist Church of Dayton was where he was baptized and raised. He was a christian and a believer in God’s word, but he was emphatic that he didn't want to make anyone go to a funeral for him. For that reason, family and friends are invited to a Celebration of Gene Brown's life on October 29th, 2-5 pm at the Waldrop Farms Crawfish Barn in Dayton, Texas for a fish fry.
Please visit this link if you are interested in attending this celebration. https://forms.gle/GsZZrAhe4ZbyuHkk9