Brown family joins PICA for service ceremony honoring Bob and Nan

Messenger photo by Britt Kudla: The children of the late Bob and Nan Brown — Randy and Rick (front) and Roger and Renee (back) — pose together in front of the new benches at Fort Dodge Senior High.

The late Nan Brown still personifies everything Fort Dodge’s Pride In Community Appearance (PICA) organization stands for to this day.

Through six decades of marriage, Nan and her husband — Hall of Fame Messenger Sports Editor Bob Brown, who passed away in 2012 — emphasized the importance of community loyalty and involvement.

Fittingly, both PICA and Fort Dodge Senior High recognized the Brown family on Sunday with a ceremony formally dedicating four new benches resting outside of the school’s main front doors. The inscription on each reads, “In memory of Bob and Nan Brown: Dodger Fans.”

Bob and Nan’s four children — Rick, Randy, Roger and Renee — were in attendance, along with other family and PICA members.

“Nan was such an important member of our group, both because of her time commitment to us and her beautiful attitude and spirit,” PICA co-founder Jan Wilson said. “Nan first joined in 2003, and continued with PICA until 2015, with 2013 being her peak year at 130 hours (served). During that 13-year period, Nan gave over 700 hours to our community.

Messenger photo by Britt Kudla: One of the four new benches outside of Fort Dodge Senior High, donated by PICA in memory of Bob and Nan Brown.

“Bob was The Messenger Sports Editor for 38 years. I can’t imagine, to be up so many nights attending sporting events and then writing stories for the next day’s Messenger. To this day, I read the Messenger’s sports section first before starting my day. I can still visualize Bob sitting at the scorer’s bench for basketball games, as was done in earlier years. Today, we have a press box (at Dodger Stadium) named after him as well. The Brown family meant a great deal to us personally and the Fort Dodge community in general through the years.”

Fort Dodge Senior High principal Staci Laird noted the benches serve both a practical and an honorary purpose.

“PICA embodies the belief in service — of giving back to your community, as did Bob and Nan Brown,” Laird said. “I love that the benches not only add a welcoming feeling to our entryway, but they symbolize that idea of service and of deep Dodger Pride.”

Nan Brown’s active hand in the growth of group had personal meaning.

“Roger told me that her PICA family was near and dear to her heart,” Wilson said. “In addition to our scheduled volunteering, Nan often weeded and watered flowers at (FDSH), Cooper School and Dodger Courts.

“Last summer, Roger surprised us with a donation to use for PICA from their family, which obviously meant a great deal to us. We talked about a tree memorial at first, but decided the benches would be a terrific way to recognize Bob and Nan. After talking with Principal Laird, she was excited to have areas where students could wait for rides or just visit with one another. We especially want to thank the school’s maintenance staff for the concrete and installation (of the benches).”

PICA celebrated its 19th anniversary on Sunday. Jan and Phyllis Wilson were joined originally by Carolyn Brandt and Leo Byrne, who were later flanked by 14 others for their first project at R.D. Mitchell Park in Fort Dodge.

“To the (Brown family): what a pleasure to have your mother and grandmother as a part of our lives,” Wilson said. “To the PICA volunteers: I thank each of you for enriching each other’s lives. PICA has become more than either Phyllis or I could imagine.”

Bob Brown was an award-winning Sports Editor for an era spanning nearly four full decades. The 1946 FDSH graduate is in the school’s Hall of Fame, as well as a member of the University of Iowa Media Wall of Fame.

Brown was named Sportswriter of the Year in Iowa by the National Association of Sportscasters and Sportswriters in 1964, 1974 and 1975. He was also a Catholic Youth Organization National Sportswriter of the Year honoree.


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