After graduating from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and working for a year in Systems Analysis for United Technologies/Pratt and Whitney Aircraft in Hartford, Connecticut, Dick Brown was headed back to his hometown, Greenville, Ohio.
As iconic as any main street in America, Greenville’s Broadway had family businesses that were the heartbeat of the community where you could get a phosphate and a football. It was on Broadway where Pete and Kay Brown, Dick’s parents, owned the Central Drug Store, complete with a soda fountain and phosphates, for over 20 years and where a young Dick worked many jobs and inherited an immense pride of place and passion for preservation. With his strong hometown spirit, Dick purchased the popular McVay’s Sporting Goods from Mac McVay in 1971 and sold many footballs and other sports items until 1987 when the store became part of Greenville’s past. Preserving the past was, and remains, a passion for the Brown family, a reflection of which can be felt at the Garst Museum. Pete served as the president of the Garst Museum for 25 years (1970-1995), while later, Dick served on the Board for 27 years (1990–2017) and as the vice-president for 21 years (1996-2017). The adoration of Broadway led Kay Brown to help with a much-loved exhibit within the Garst Museum—the Kay Brown Gallery, a display of photographs and drawings depicting the buildings and businesses along Broadway. Museum patrons become immersed in the photos trying to pick out the Central Drug Store and McVay’s Sporting Goods, among many other bygone businesses. It’s just a short distance from Broadway to Harmon Drive and Greenville High School, where Dick volunteers tireless hours to photograph and archive each class’s memories to preserve the spirit of his hometown.
It was at the 2021 Gathering at Garst that Dick Brown’s fondness for his hometown again became evident. During the Gathering, Dick was able to visit with long-time acquaintance and former Greenvillian, artist Don Mong, who was one of the players on Dick’s Little League beginners’ team “The Bats” in 1966. Many will know of Mong’s recent Greenville: My Hometown project, which is a collection of watercolor and ink images of Greenville’s iconic landmarks, both past, and present. These beautiful renditions now embellish a series of greeting cards, posters, postcards, and wooden boxes. An enthusiastic conversation between the two Greenville men led to Dick generously funding the first-ever Greenville: My Hometown In the Great Darke County book and the Don bringing the imagery to life one brushstroke at a time. This hardback book would be the first to celebrate the nostalgia of Greenville. By December 2021, and just in time for Christmas, the completed book filled the shelves of the Museum Store and triggered a flurry of interest and purchases.
On December 14, 2021, Dick Brown was presented a personally inscribed copy of the book to thank him for his generosity. Housed fittingly in the Kay Brown Gallery, it serves as a symbol of Dick Brown continuing his mother’s legacy by artistically celebrating their beloved hometown.
Caption: Dr. Gruber (left) and Dr. Johnson (right) present book to Dick Brown.