Howard Brown, a die-hard local sports fan who had followed Bonac teams since the 1930s, and who, as the Most Holy Trinity School and Catholic Church buildings and grounds superintendent, helped generations of kids build birdhouses and other projects, died at the Countryside Care Center in Delhi, N.Y., on June 17, following a fall.
Mr. Brown was born in Sag Harbor on June 12, 1917, the son of Albert Brown Sr. and the former Alice Mott. He attended St. Andrew’s Catholic School in that village before his family moved to East Hampton.
He was uninterested in professional sports, his family said, but “never missed a game” of the boys and girls teams because “the kids play their hearts out just to try to win and because they love the game.”
Besides cheering for the East Hampton High School field hockey team during a state final four in Oneonta, or for the boys basketball team in its bid for a state title, Mr. Brown followed Little League teams, men’s soccer games and women’s softball games played at Herrick Park in East Hampton Village, and the men’s softball games at the Terry King ball field in Amagansett. In 1990, he was the grand marshal of East Hampton High School’s homecoming parade.
He loved growing things. In an interview with Jack Graves, The Star’s sportswriter, 18 years ago, he said, “I always wanted to be a gardener, working with the soil and plants. It’s like a miracle how from a few dry seeds you’ll get a beautiful flower. There’s nothing closer to the good Lord than working in the soil . . . it’s quite a miracle.”
He worked for Buckley’s Flower Shop in East Hampton when he was young, and then became a caretaker at William C. Ford’s East Hampton estate for 20 years. He spent the next 20 years at Most Holy Trinity, where he was beloved by the children, whom he befriended and encouraged. He built swing sets for them to play on and decorative birdhouses and double-glider swings for the school to raffle off at its country fair. The 1989-90 school yearbook was dedicated to him.
Mr. Brown was a regular at the old Chicken House, or G&T Dairy — now the Hampton Market Place — in East Hampton Village, where a group of locals sat together, ate, and visited.
He was married to the former Jessie McMonagle, who died in 2004. He is survived by a son, Harvey M. Brown of Worcester, N.Y.
Mr. Brown was cremated. His ashes will be buried at Most Holy Trinity Cemetery at a later date.