Antique Iron enthusiasts always have the fond memories of riding on a tractor with a parent. I was fortunate to have more people when I was younger. The farm ground in my neighborhood was tended by a father son dual operation. As a kid, I spent many hours riding along with the son as he preformed tillage.
Keith Brown was only ten years my senior. We had many conversations and developed a bond that lasted many years as I grew into adulthood. I’m not ashamed to admit I learned much, not only about farming, but life in general. Keith took on a role of my big brother.
Keith and family were instrumental in helping me reach my Christian faith. I have always tried to follow the example of ethics the Browns displayed. Our Lord uses any available vessel to do his work. No matter being broken. None of us our perfect.
I realize now the time spent in the tractor cab was my job interview and training. Keith also became my first employer. I started working for the farm as a young teen. My responsibility grew from walking beans, bucking bales and mowing yards to operating the farm tractors. It didn’t take long to understand I wanted to be in front of the baler on the tractor. The tractor seat was where all the action was.
Keith must have seen potential in me. I was expected to work independently and later supervised work in his absence. Keith had his head in the clouds and was also a commercial pilot. Our working relationship was a success. Keith had cultivated a work ethic and skill set in me so that I could be trusted to carry on, in his absence, as if he was there supervising. I look back and like to think we made up a good team back then.
Keith created more opportunities and skill sets during our years working together. He held the office of township road commissioner. I was employed by the township as well. I received experience operating a road grader. My professional driving kicked off at this point. This would be my first opportunity to drive tandem axle dump trucks.
My first taste of driving the big trucks was a C-60 Chevy with a “two stick” transmission. Most people don’t even understand that terminology let alone how to shift through the gears. My dad helped truck one day while I was away. Keith had assigned that old Chevy to him. Dad asked Keith perplexed “How do you shift that thing?” Keith shrugged with a sheepish look. “Honestly I have no clue! You’d have to ask your kid, he’s got it figured out” I can thank Keith for my love of the road.
There are other ways Keith lent a helping hand in seeing me along the road of life. Some were so suttle I little realized he did. When I moved down state, we drifted apart. It’s sad how time has a way of stealing important moments like that. We rush, in a hurry, never stopping to remember. Our paths don’t always merge back and we lose touch
I was sadly informed my mentor and friend passed on. I have deep regret for the lost time we could have shared in this life. His time here was short, but I take comfort Keith has moved on to a better place. It makes me smile to think he is still flying. He just has new wings!
My deepest condolences reach out to family and friends that Keith Brown touched. Our hearts may feel pain, but let’s hold fondly to the good memories.