Longtime newsman Gregory Brown remembered for high standards, good humor

·5 min read

May 13—Gregory Brown was both a hard-nosed journalist and a man of good humor and community spirit.

"Greg was always one of those people who was very committed to local news and the news product," said retired journalist Tom Bickert of Elwood City, who was a fellow editor with Brown at the Beaver County Times. "His expectations for people were high, but he was also a very good mentor to a lot of young reporters and helped them navigate the labyrinth that is local news.

"He was also one of the funniest people you'd ever want to meet," Bickert said. "He was outgoing, gregarious — and demanding as a journalist — but as a friend and a colleague, they didn't come much better."

Brown had a long stint as an editor at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, from 2003 to 2015.

"Greg's outgoing personality and passion for a good story always stood out when he was in the newsroom," said the Trib's Executive Editor Luis Fabregas, who worked alongside Brown at the Trib's Pittsburgh-based office. "He definitely left a mark in local journalism."

A resident of Hopewell Township, Beaver County, Gregory A. Brown died May 10 at age 66.

"Greg was a journalist through and through. It was his life's work and his passion," said his widow, Patricia Brown. "He believed wholeheartedly in the idea that a strong free press was necessary for a civil society, and held himself to the highest standards for that."

Retired journalist Bob Bauder of Hopewell said Brown hired him in 1995 as a reporter at the Beaver County Times, and later had a hand in Bauder joining the Tribune-Review.

"He would take your clips, maybe a week's worth, maybe three or four days, and he would mark them up with critiques, both good and bad," Bauder said. "We felt that it really helped us as journalists to have someone looking at our copy. It helped you learn."

Brown was "very much a reporter's editor," said Andrew Conte, director of the Point Park University Center for Media Innovation and a former Tribune-Review investigative reporter. "If I was working on a weekend and he was my editor, I wanted to come out with something that would get his attention and entertain him.

"He put a premium on good storytelling," Conte said. "You wouldn't just go do something boring, you wanted to come back with something that would impress him."

Seeing the full context

While Brown prized good content, he didn't ignore the human side of the news business.

"I think he saw people for their full selves," Conte said. "Editors sometimes see people for what they can do for them, for getting something done on deadline, but Greg really stood back to see the person in their full context — as a reporter, but as someone who also has a full life outside of the newsroom.

"He wanted to celebrate the full person."

While the two worked together on and off through the years, Bauder noted that he and Brown also were fellow members of the Aliquippa Elks Lodge, where Brown recently had started his second stint as the Exalted Ruler.

"We had a lot of projects going on and he was effecting a positive change at the Elks," Bauder said. "I've been hearing a lot from former colleagues and everyone says the same thing — he was a good guy and a good journalist and well-respected."

Brown enjoyed kayaking, bird-watching and spending time at his camp in Tidioute, Warren County. He was an avid amateur photographer and chess player, following the World Chess Championship online.

"One of his most recent hobbies was researching native plants and installing a pollinator-friendly garden, receiving an official certification for it from the Penn State Extension Master Gardner program," Patricia Brown said.

"I know that Greg had just retired probably within the year, and I know he had a lot of plans for his retirement," Bickert said. "Death always comes with a sense of unfairness, but I feel so sad that he and his wife and family won't have the opportunity to enjoy his retirement."

Brown was born April 28, 1957, in Waynesburg, a son of the late Harry and Anna (Magon) Brown. He was a member of Mary, Queen of Saints Catholic Parish, Our Lady of Fatima Church.

A Penn State University graduate with a degree in journalism, Brown worked as reporter and editor for the former Democrat Messenger in Waynesburg prior to working in the same capacity at the Beaver County Times.

He served as editor for the Pittsburgh Catholic before moving to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. His latest position was in the FedEx Ground communications department.

In addition to his wife, Patricia J. (Franks) Brown, survivors include daughter Sarah (David) Evans, son Ethan, sister Janice (Robert) Barzanti and brother Michael (Heather) Brown.

Friends will be received from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. Sunday at Darroch Cremation and Funeral Tributes Inc., 2640 Mill St., Aliquippa, where prayers will be offered at 9:30 a.m. Monday. A Mass of Christian Burial will follow at 10 a.m. in Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church.

In lieu of flowers, donations are suggested to the Little Sisters of the Poor of Pittsburgh, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Baden or the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.

Shirley McMarlin is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Shirley by email at smcmarlin@triblive.com or via Twitter .