Cover photo for Ronald Lee Brown's Obituary
Ronald Lee Brown Profile Photo

Ronald Lee Brown

October 22, 1951 — March 26, 2024

Barton City

Ronald Lee Brown (October 22, 1951 – March 26, 2024)

Ron Brown, known to many affectionately as “Ronnie”, passed away peacefully after a brief illness in his home while surrounded by loved ones.  He was 72 years young.

Ron was born in Mt. Clemens, MI to the late Raymond Carl and Margaret (Sabo) Brown, was a member of Bethlehem Lutheran Church where he also attended school, and spent nearly his entire life a resident on Ruthdale street in Roseville before “retiring” up north to Barton City in 2008 to live “the good life” with his sister.

The youngest of six siblings, Ronnie was often the center of attention as a child, where he gained notoriety for a nickname from Grandma that never stuck (“Runner”), sucking his thumb to the point of leaving permanent toothmarks, playing with matches (only once), reading comic books, and – after the eldest siblings found jobs and moved out – helping their Pa cut and gather firewood (much to his chagrin) from nearby Shadow Woods to heat the family home.  With 11 years between the eldest and youngest and a very doting mother, he never could quite shake the endearing moniker of being the baby brother, even long afterwards as an “old fart.”

As a teenager Ron spent time after school working at McDonalds and later the family gun shop, where through tutelage from his Pa, the shop gunsmith and an elder brother-in-law, he acquired a passion for firearms, gunsmithing and the shooting sports.  A graduate of Roseville-Brablec high school, Ron much later would make light of how his senior class was the first through while the school was still under construction, so half the day had to be spent in study hall (“no machine shop, no wood shop, no pool”).

Ron met and went on to marry his sweetheart, the late Frankie (Berry), and settled right next door to his childhood home on Ruthdale raising three children together, a period in their life highlighted by many summer family barbeques and horseshoe pitches, the Brown family Christmases and his signature baked beans from scratch, June birthday parties for the kids, the trips up north in the Olds, and his very faithful (and fertile) dog named Trixie.

A boltmaker by trade, Ron was a very reliable employee and team leader, always having a knack for keeping his machine up and running and the end product within spec, even when the poor quality of the raw steel suggested otherwise.  Given the extreme heat, noise and oil mist that hung in the air of such cold header shops, he would often say to the front office newbies, “If you see me in the breakroom reading the paper with a cup of coffee, that means I’m not wrenching on a broken-down machine, the machine’s making parts and the company is making money!”  (They’d mostly walk away stupefied.)  He notably worked for Wolverine Bolt and MNP.

Although lukewarm on deer hunting (“D.H.S.” generally being his response), in addition to shooting and reloading Ron really liked to bird hunt, specifically for partridge (or “pats”) as he called them.  Ron also enjoyed the motorcycle rides with his buddies “back in the day” (esp. their trips to the U.P. and Sleeping Bear and running down the sand dunes) and would always stop to humor a neighbor kid who wanted to go for a ride around the block.  But above all else Ron would revisit the times cruising Gratiot in his “Sleeper” 390 Mustang, or his ’69 Camaro Z28 Rally Sport (“The Zapper”) with his best friend and their chance encounter with Frankie who just happened to be out with her cousin.

Good natured with an infectious laugh and gift for gab, “The man with the mojo not to be messed with,” Ron was also a perfect sounding board and always one to listen.  Ronnie will be remembered by those close to him for his sharp wit, wisecracks and many funny taglines (“‘N Stuff”).  A dedicated dad who never turned down a request to play catch, Ron especially in times of trouble was always there for his kids offering the following advice: “Number one don’t sweat the small stuff; and number two, it’s all small stuff.”

Ron will also be remembered for his longstanding Super Bowl poker party “reunions” with his old work buddies from “the Bolt,” the countless Euchre games at the kitchen table, his epic backyard bonfires, his full attention to college football and the Spartans every fall (his favorite season), the backwoods rides down the two tracks around B.C., being an avid reader, history buff, armchair astronomer and photog, his penchant for Motown until discovering The Who, his handywork with a chainsaw, “putzing around” the motorcycle shed or garage with the ballgame on the radio, doing his crosswords and watching Jeopardy, and how bright his face would light up whenever he saw his grandkids.  A God-fearing son of a Sunday school teacher yet self-professed pragmatic, not one to judge or look to quarrel, Ron truly lived by the Golden Rule and was a generous and gracious friend to all. 

Ron was preceded in death by his parents, his former wife Frankie and their daughter Linda Lee, his sister Ruthie (Przicina), brother John (“Sneez”) and eldest sister Cassie (Miller).  He is survived by two sons, Jericho (“Jay”) and Danny, daughter-in-law Carol, three grandchildren Jake, Drew and Makenna, big sister Marlene (Anderson) and big brother Ray (“Cork”), as well as many loving nieces and nephews, brothers-and-sisters-in-law, cousins, shirt-tails, neighbors and friends.

Cremation arrangements were made through Gillies Funeral Home, Lincoln.  Memorial donations are suggested to Alcona County Commission on Aging or to Hospice of Michigan. To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Ronald Lee Brown, please visit our flower store.

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