“To most of you, my father-in-law, Robert Clare Brown, III (aka Bobby), was President and CEO of Sugar Land Telephone Company and a 30-year member of the Fort Bend Economic Development Council,” says local BUGCO Pest Control owner John Onofrey. “He’s a longtime community advocate and philanthropist…at one point he and my mother-in-law Carole were known as ‘Mr. and Mrs. Fort Bend County!’ But to those of us closest to him, Bobby was simply known as ‘the most interesting man in the world.’”
Born in Bishop, CA, Bobby lived his entire childhood in the state of California. At Barstow High School, he was a star athlete…receiving the Best All Around Athlete Award his senior year. Bobby met the love of his life Carole when she was in the 8th grade and he was in the 9th grade. The two married on October 2, 1954. Bobby’s jobs in power and then telephone took the couple to Nevada, back to California, Arizona, back to California again, and finally to Sugar Land. The most important part of this adventure was the welcoming of the couple’s two daughters: Jody Lynn and Trudy Ann. Highlights along the way included Bobby’s stint playing basketball with a semi professional team. Bobby played against the Harlem Magicians (now known as the Harlem Globetrotters) and became lifelong friends with Marcus Haines, the original player for the team. Bobby and Carole were members of the International Safari Club. They made frequent trips to Africa with lifelong friends that accompanied them to the Amazon River and Argentina.
Bobby’s dream of running a telephone company came to fruition at Sugar Land Telephone Company. His daughter Trudy says, “It was so difficult for me to know where to start talking about Sugar Land Telephone Company and Fort Bend County. But he and my mom were welcomed with open arms!” The Fort Bend Economic Development Council considered Bobby captain of the ship. He steered this community through turbulent times and the waters of growth for more than two decades as chairman.
Carole and Bobby were involved in more local charities than one can count. Bobby particularly loved charities that involved making children’s lives better. He not only worked for these charities, but he donated money generously at the hundreds of events he attended over the years. Bobby started a tradition of bidding on any dogs that were being auctioned off at the fundraisers. He would win, pay for the dog, and then give it back immediately to be auctioned off again…doubling the amount for the charity. Over the years, it’s estimated this happened at least 100 times. Bobby always said that he wanted to give back to this community that had been so generous to him and his family.
Surrounded by family, Bobby passed away peacefully on June 14, 2021 in Kremmling, Colorado. He is survived by his wife of 66 years, Carole; daughter Jody and husband David; daughter Trudy and husband John; grandchildren: Kristen, Tim, Nick, Courtney, and Sam; three great grandchildren: Makai, Liam, Brody; and his brother, Dennis. Trudy says, “Dad was one of a kind…a loving, kind, generous man who would do anything for his family, friends, and community. His sense of humor and telling jokes was amazing. He will be remembered by not only his family, but an entire community of people who loved him.”