Howard John Brown, a lifelong resident of East Hampton Town and part of the team that established the Springs Ambulance Company, died at Southampton Hospital on Sept. 18 of complications from myelodysplastic syndrome, formerly known as preleukemia. He was 84 years old.
Mr. Brown was born on March 28, 1928, and grew up in Amagansett at the family homestead on Montauk Highway. His parents, Howard and Ann McPadden Brown, farmed and raised chickens. While still a boy at the Amagansett School, Mr. Brown delivered and collected bottles of milk, having milked the family cow, Bossie, to fill the bottles.
In high school, Mr. Brown, who was an excellent swimmer, saved a member of the Coast Guard who was drowning. After that, his family said, the Amagansett Village Improvement Society sent him and a friend to a Red Cross training camp and he became a senior Red Cross lifeguard, first at Fresh Pond and then at the ocean beach in Amagansett.
After he graduated from East Hampton High School and until 1950, when he was drafted during the Korean War, he was employed at Goble Aircraft in Montauk. In Korea, he was a tank gunner. He got into some trouble there while on a mission to deliver ammunition to infantry troops, for stopping a tank under his command to retrieve a wounded friend.
After the war he returned to Goble, where he was in charge of a team of inspectors of airplane parts for P47 and F84 jets. When the factory closed he went to work as a caretaker for Aida Gardiner, and also worked for a time at the Sag Harbor Industries plant.
In 1962, he was hired as a clerk for the East Hampton Town Board of Assessors, working with the assessors Eugene Haas and William Reutershan to set up procedures and formulas for property taxes. On weekends, he was a houseman and dispatcher for the East Hampton firehouse. He also volunteered for the Springs Fire Department as a fireman and later, in the 1970s, became one of the East Hampton department’s first emergency medical technicians. He volunteered for both Springs and East Hampton, working more than a decade for both, and served as captain of the Springs Ambulance Company for one year.
He did not believe women should be part of the ambulance crew, but they did eventually join it as the E.M.T. squads expanded. Women members of the crew got him back years later at an awards ceremony by sewing white lace on the collar of the ambulance jacket he received.
Mr. Brown worked for East Hampton for 33 years and retired in 1995. He continued as a consultant to the board of assessors for two years following.
He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Virginia Brown, and three daughters, Ruth Ann Miller of North Carolina, Donna Brown of Springs, and Doreen Smith of Southampton. He also leaves two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Memorial contributions have been suggested for the Springs Fire Department Ambulance Company, 179 Fort Pond Boulevard, East Hampton 11937.