Gordon Brownlee ’75 wrote to us yesterday morning to share the sad news of the passing of Bill Brownlee, Trustee Emeritus and member of the Class of 1944 at St. Andrew’s.
We feel so fortunate to have known Bill so well over his extraordinary years of service to the School. He was literally the representative of this Board, this alumni body, and this school for his entire life, and he carried himself and lived with such grace, generosity, kindness, and love.
Consider this life:
Born in London of American parents, Bill returned to the U.S. at the age of three, and grew up in New York City, where he attended the Trinity School before coming to St. Andrew’s in 1942 for his V and VI Form years. His activities at St. Andrew’s included: Football, Basketball, Crew, Choir, and Vestry, and he was a Prefect.
After St. Andrew’s, he attended Cornell, spent time in the United States Army, then went back to Cornell and received a B.S. in industrial engineering in 1950. In 1953, Bill married Sheila Milligan in a 12th century church in England and lived in the town of Rugby, England for 18 months. After returning to the United States in 1954, Bill spent nine years in business with his father and brother selling commercial laundry and dry-cleaning equipment. Bill then went to work for IBM and spent almost 30 years in various marketing positions in the Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia area.
Bill was President of the St. Andrew's Alumni Council from 1970-1975 and joined the St. Andrew's Board of Trustees in 1974. He served as the Chairman of the Development and Education Committees. He continued to serve as Class Agent, a Class Agent mentor, Career Night panelist, and Phonathon caller.
Bill attended and supported all St. Andrew’s social events: Metro Stops, Toasts, Golf Sponsor, St. Andrew’s Travel Program to China, Peru, and Holland River Cruise, and both Gala celebrations. He also attended the funerals of Bob Moss and other St. Andreans.
Bill was passionate about crew and rowed at St. Andrew’s. Bill had been seen ERGing in his gray flannels sans blazer in between Board committee meetings, back when the ERGs were over the railing from the Advancement Office. He had rowed at many if not most Diamond States Regattas at St. Andrew’s each summer—always with younger oarspeople. Most poignant was the Brownlee Boat at a recent Reunion, oared by three generations of Brownlees. After his daughter Janet graduated in 1979, Bill established the Brownlee Women's Crew Prize—at first given with a pin, and now given with the Women's Oar.
Bill became a Trustee Emeritus in 1994 and was involved in the decision leading to the founding of St. Anne's. He served two terms as a Founding Trustee of St. Anne's.
His SAS family includes:
Children: Ian '73, Gordon '75, Steven '77, Janet '79
Grandchildren: Lindsay '05, Peter '09, Colin '14, Meggie '17
We will join the family for a memorial service here at St. Andrew’s when the pandemic is over.
We find inspiration from Bill’s steadfast loyalty and service to St. Andrew’s.
Scott Sipprelle and Tad Roach