Terribly sad and surprising news this week. After coming home from a hike with a friend, Peter Brown complained that he wasn't feeling well. In a very, very short time, this healthy, vibrant man of 57 had passed away from a heart attack.
Still, I don't want him to be known for the shocking and unpredictable nature of his death, but for the tenor of the life he led.
Come below and say hello--and goodbye--to a friend of mine.
Though he had a law degree, Peter was not enthusiastic at the prospect of plying the trade. Instead, he chose a career in government, writing concise, clear briefs at the Department of Justice for the civil servants charged with executing the nation's laws. He was quite good at it, and was proud of his role in extending the protection of the law to his fellow citizens. He rose to a supervisory position, tightening up others' briefs.
Such was his passion for fairness that he offered his services to HUD's Fair Housing division, which used Peter as the white guy walk-up who would inquire into apartments that had been refused to African American renters, an activity that tickled Peter greatly, especially when he thought of his own three mixed race sons, of whom he was so very proud.
After many years in government service, Peter recently retired to pursue his real occupation, writing. He was the author of the O Henry Festival prize-winning novel Ruthie Black and the Grace Notes Competition finalist short story collection Sidewalk Faces. His imaginative re-telling of "Gone with the Wind" from the perspective of Rhett Butler's son, The Death of Rhett Butler, can be read online.
He was a regular fixture at the Washington area Writer's Center, where he wrote, read and led workshops.
Peter was a fine man, a dedicated public servant, a writer of the first caliber, a good dad and a good friend, and this old world is a poorer place without him.