AARON SAUL BROWN - 1925-2011
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Orson Pratt Brown's Son
By Aron Saul Brown
My father was a Mormon pioneer in Mexico. Beginning in 1887 at the age of 17, while living in Graham County, Arizona with his mother, he was called to go to Mexico to help the polygamist families that had migrated there escaping the polygamy laws in the United States.
In 1927 my father moved his young family to Colonia Dublán, Chihuahua where in earlier years he had been a very strong church and community leader, but now he was a newly rebaptized member of the church. He was a 64 year old man in broken health and destitute economically. In such conditions he made a start in Colonia Dublán. He purchased a house and a small farm, obtained a few cows, chickens and hogs that my mother cared for along with the help of us small boys. We made a living by selling the by-products of the chickens and cows. During all those years until 1952 my mother never enjoyed indoor plumbing or electricity.
My brother Gustavo and sister Bertha went to the Mexican Mission, and my brother Pauly went to El Paso to work. I quit high school my junior year to take care of the farm and the house chores. I returned and graduated the following year.
When Gustavo returned from his mission I turned the farm over to him and I did some apple packing for Brother Joseph Memmott and bailed some straw with equipment owned by . With the proceeds of these ventures I took a train to Mexico City as "Hans in luck" looking for adventure. There I met (Nano) who would become my sister Bertha's husband. On Sundays I would go to the mission home where I met President and his assistant Vaughn Green. President Pierce asked me what I was doing in Mexico City. I told him I was looking for employment so that I could go to College or go on a mission.
I found employment working for Mexicana de Aviacion, an affiliate of Pan American Airways. It was my first real job and I would travel by bus to the airport every day, and was an apprentice in radio communications in the operations department of the airport. The opportunity to seek a more permanent employment was offered me to go to Tapachula, Chiapas, or to Merida, Yucatan. This was 1945, and I had just turned 20 years of age, and World War II had just ended. I flew to Merida, Yucatan where I worked at the airport giving weather information and landing instructions to American pilots coming in from Guatemala, New Orleans and Miami.
In Merida I slept on a hammock and began reading the Book of Mormon in Spanish. I spent my spare time giving free English lessons to bank employees, to my doctor, and to two couples, one the wife of the airport manager. I traveled to the pyramids, and visited other places of interest, including an overnight flight to Havana, Cuba as an observer.
In October I received a letter from Vaughn Green, assistant to Pres. Arwell Pierce, informing me that Pres. Pierce had found a man in Salt Lake City who was willing to support a missionary with $300.00 a year, or $25.00 a month, and that I was being called on a mission. I replied that I felt obligated to remain with the airline through the end of the year to render my services. After Christmas I flew to Mexico City and together with Everardo Navas took the train to Ciudad Juarez and then to Colonia Dublán, and I participated in the double wedding of my brother Pauly, with my former girlfriend Lilia Gonzales, and Bertha who was marrying Everardo. After an interview with my stake president I was ordained an Elder and sent to Salt Lake City for missionary training service.
I took the bus from El Paso to Mesa, and then North to Salt Lake where my brothers , , , and , met me. Miles loaned me a heavy wool coat as it was January and very cold. I went through the Temple for the first time and was interviewed by S. Dilworth Young. Brother Colton directed the mission home and there were about 160 missionaries in my group for the whole church, for a 2 week training. I was asked to be in charge of the 4 missionaries going to El Paso to the Spanish American Mission, as well as the 4 of us going to Mexico City.
In Mexico City I worked in the mission office, first translating the Relief Society manual. I was privileged to be there when church president George Albert Smith came to bring about the reconciliation of the Mexican members of the Third Convention who had been excommunicated about 8 years earlier. While in Mexico City I received a telegram informing me that my father had died March 10, 1946, and advising me that my brothers , , , and Don were in Mexico City. I contacted them at the Regis Hotel and they offered to pay my fare back to the Colonies for the funeral. After the May Conference when Pres. Smith visited Mexico City I was transferred to Puebla and my senior companion was Jonas Estrada. From there I was asked to lead a group of Saints who were going to the Mesa, Arizona Temple in September. After the October conference I was transferred to Toluca, where I was in charge of 8 missionaries. It was while there on January 6th, that Bertha's first daughter Lucy was born.
From Toluca I was transferred to Morelia, Michoacan where with Glenn Skousen we opened the city to missionary work. We lived in a Casa de Huespedes and from there began tracting with very poor success. One time we had our hands kissed by Mexican peasants who were also waiting for someone to answer the door bell. We were asked who we were and we said we were missionaries, whereupon the peasants kissed our hands thinking we were Catholic missionaries. We were tracting the house of the Catholic Bishop. On a subsequent tracting trip we came upon the house of a man who invited us in who happened to be a public school inspector. He was Catholic but was nonconforming. He advised us of the perils we had in such a Catholic city, and he put us in touch with a friend of his who worked in the University, and after advising him we were willing to give free English lessons, he publicized it with big placards throughout the city and we ended up with about 600 applications. Eventually we weeded out the curious and we each taught 2 different nights at the University and were greeted on the street as "maestro". We played basketball in the municipal league and later secured quarters where we could teach English as well as teach the gospel to those who wished to remain after class. The only baptisms that came out of this experience was that of Xochitl Gomez and her brother. Xochitl moved to Mexico City and joined the church and ended up marrying Agricol Lozano, who later became the church attorney and Temple President of the Mexico City Temple, with Xochitl as the matron.
After my mission, in 1948, I obtained a U.S. resident passport in El Paso and traveled to Provo to attend BYU. That Fall semester I lived in Spanish Fork and worked for my brother Orson in his new service station and commuted daily to Provo with one of his employees. I didn't like college under such rigorous conditions, not being able to participate in college life, and I moved to Salt Lake City and attended LDS Business College. I obtained a job selling cookware with the Kitchen Kraft Co. of Utah and would go out of town to sell. On a return trip from Elko, Nevada I had a near fatal accident that totaled the car and knocked me unconscious. After recuperating I was able to buy an old 1937 Studebaker and continued to sell pots and pans. I was able to save enough money to put a down payment on a 1946 Chevy and joined Elmo Nester, our group leader, on a selling trip to Wyoming.
Elmo Nester was the biggest sales producer for the company in all of United States. He was a smooth operator and I learned some techniques from him. On this trip to Wyoming, on the first week, I learned of my strength as a smooth convincing salesman in both English and Spanish, and visiting a small mining town East of Rock Springs, I sold 29 sets of cookware that first week, which was a record for any salesman in the U.S. That Sunday I went to church in Rock Springs while the other 3 salesmen went out selling. Monday morning I returned to the mining town and that week I ended up selling 47 sets at $139.00 per set, my commission was $19.50 for each set. Elmo Nester lied down and cried on Wednesday after I came in for the third day with 10 contracts. He could not bear to have a neophyte outdo him. Needless to say I had performed a miracle with 29 and 47 sets sold in two weeks I had earned over $1500.00. I returned to Salt Lake unable to speak and had to have my tonsils taken out. But I was a hero to my brother Orson who owned the Orson Brown Chevrolet Co. in Spanish Fork. I turned in my '46 Chevy for a brand new 1950 four door Chevy that was the only new car he had in the show room.
In 1952 I bought a new 1952 Belair Coupe, it was a sharp looking car to which I added Cadillac fins and insignias, it even confused the police. That summer before my trip to Mexico when I met Jessie, I drove to Colonia Dublán and helped my brother Gus fence some land out on the flats. When I was getting ready to return to the United States he, out of the clear blue sky, said "why don't you take Mother and Grandma and Martha, our adopted sister, to El Paso where Mary and Bertha can take care of them. The suggestion seemed preposterous because nobody had any documents to cross the border. It was late in the afternoon, it was the rainy season, and there were many potholes and high centers on the dirt road leading to Antelope Wells, New Mexico where I would be crossing the border into the United States. On the spur of the moment I agreed to the proposition and we loaded up what little we could carry, and my mother, Martha and Grandma sat in the back seat, and a Mexican laborer worker came along just in case I had car trouble. We took off about 5 p.m. and arrived at the border after midnight where we found the border closed. The Mexican official came to us and I declared that I had a load of sick people who needed to go to the United States immediately, and offered him 20 pesos as a bribe. He opened the border gate and I drove straight through without following the directions that indicated I should check in with the American customs officer about 1/2 a mile to the East. I turned off my lights and drove by moonlight for about 10 miles before turning my headlights on and arrived in El Paso at daybreak, to the surprise of my sisters, Bertha and Mary. I'm sure that my mother, my grandmother and Martha prayed that we would have a successful journey, for truly it was a miracle. I soon found a house that I could buy with some funds that I had and Gus sent by rail many of my mother's belongings as well as canned fruit that she had, and furnished $1000.00 to buy furniture and carpeting. On a subsequent trip to El Paso I converted the garage into a bedroom, a bathroom and a kitchen for my mother, and connected her kitchen to the rest of the house so she could be independent..
Jessie Whitsell and I were married June 7th, 1954 in the Salt Lake Temple, along with another couple who also went on that trip to Mexico City. Shortly thereafter I went to Provo where I met up with my old accounting professor Val Hoyt, from Shortcreek, Arizona, who asked me what I was doing. He encouraged me to give up direct selling and attend New York University School of Retailing, for which he obtained a tuition scholarship, and I was off to New York a week later leaving Jessie in Salt Lake with her aunt and cousin where she had obtained employment as a school teacher. On the train from Chicago from New York, a gentleman overheard me speaking in Spanish and asked where I had learned it. When I told him who I was he introduced himself as Henry Eyring (1901-1981), the father of our current apostle Dr. Henry B. Eyring a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and a prominent scientist from the University of Utah. He told me that his father, Edward C. Eyring II (1868-1959), and my father had been partners in the cattle business in Mexico at the turn of the century and that his father, who was now in his 90s, was living with his son, a brother of Henry's, who was chairman of Chase Manhattan Bank in New York. He insisted that I should call his brother when I got settled down, and go and visit his father, which I did.
"Invest time that will compound forever." ~ Henry Bennion Eyring (May 31,1933-)
While serving as a buyer, my extracurricular activities were Elders Quorum President in the Logan Square ward, MIA counselor in the North Shore Ward, and music director in the Northshore 2nd Ward. We lived in a new house in Elk Grove Village and knowing that a potential basement existed under my house I ventured to begin a project to dig a basement. I was able to do it through the garage and hauled about 150 loads of dirt, through the garage, without spilling any dirt in the front yard, and finished the basement within a year. We held many Mexican parties from our ward and stake and our children had an ample playground year round.
I ventured into the rental business and bought a 40 unit apartment building near Loyola University on the North shore. I remodeled it with the help of my janitor and eventually was earning more money on this venture than my salary and bonus at Marshall Fields. When I quit Marshall Fields in 1972 I moved to Tempe, Arizona, where Bonnie had decided to attend college at ASU. We purchased a 4 bedroom house at 604 E. Loyola Dr. which is still my current home.
I built some homes in Cholla Bay, Mexico where my brother Gustavo owned the land. I sold the first 4 homes profitably, and later built 9 more, 8 of which I still own, and I'm currently finishing the remodeling to sell them. In 1975, with proceeds from the sale of my 40 unit building. I bought a 600 acre farm in Hermosillo, Mexico for $135,000 with the purpose of growing table grapes, first encouraged by my friend Gary Hatch, and his father Seville Hatch who had a vineyard there. When I was rebuffed in my effort to be a partner with the Hatches, I bought my own farm, which was probably the biggest mistake I ever made in my life. It was during this year that my daughter Bonnie married Colin Tessay in June. I planted about 40 acres of grapes and plowed them all in, recognizing the futility of me being a grape grower, and grew only some cucumbers for export, which were profitable for one or 2 years, and later only grew wheat and alfalfa which were staples. I would have made $100,000 on my alfalfa and wheat crops in 1977, had it not been for the continual devaluation of the Mexican peso, which was $12.50 to $1 when I bought the farm and $3000 to $1 in 1986 when I sold it.
I discontinued my farming in 1986, and traded my farm for a luxury house in Tucson, Arizona. I rented this house for 12 years and finally sold it for $315,000 in the year 2000. For tax purposes my affair in Mexico and in Tucson proved to be fortuitous. I was able to depreciate my farm and then my house to the point that my income tax obligation was close to zero over the long period, and subsequent earnings that I made with KVVA Radio from 1982 to 1996 when I retired were written off against the losses accumulated over the years in the farm and in the house in Tucson. At KVVA I was first a sales manager, and later wishing to only work part time, I just sold Spanish language advertising and sponsored a one hour program every Sunday entitled "Conozca a los Mormones", which ran for about 10 years.
[Aron's daughter told us in Mesa that one of the times that Aron and Jesse were working in the Mesa Temple, Jesse was introduced to another temple worker, Elena Pratt Turley. Both women immediately bonded and recognized each other as sisters of true hearts and spirits. Neither woman ever forgot this chance meeting.]
My daughter Bonnie and I went to Spain in 1990 and had an enjoyable trip finding the Village of Gabaldón, my mother's forebears' origin.. My wife Jessie had been having fainting spells and on October 1st, 1991 she died from a stroke caused by a blood clot. We buried Jessie in her home town cemetery in Mississippi where her parents are buried.
Meanwhile Bonnie has sold her house in Portland, Oregon where she has been the principal in an elementary school and moved to Coeur D' Alene, Idaho where she married David Roger Ducharme on August 2, 2002. Dave has two daughters from a previous marriage.
Our enterprise in Tempe has been the management of about 20 rental units that we have acquired over the years, mainly in South Phoenix, and more recently in Mesa. These have provided me with a full time job in the management and maintenance of these units. Elena has helped me in the collection and the payment of bills and generally assisted me in this enterprise.
We accepted a call by our church to fill a mission as Public Affairs missionaries in Mexico City in 1996 for 18 months. However, our mission was cut short to only 11 months because of the heart surgeries required by Elena. Since returning Elena has had additional surgeries, the latest by-pass has been very successful. I had triple bypass surgery in 1998 and I'm doing well as the result of it. My only problems are diabetes and high blood pressure which keep me constantly taking medication for these maladies. But other than being short of energy I am OK. Although my own children have not given me any blood-related grandchildren, Elena's five children have provided us with eleven beautiful and lovely grandchildren, who are the joy of our lives.
I believe that the Lord has been very merciful and kind to me throughout my life. I served a mission in Mexico as a young man; I married in the Temple and had 2 beautiful children. My wife had many physical ailments that affected her mostly after 1967, and if the Lord had not taken her when He did in 1991 she might have had a stroke that might have rendered her a vegetable, so He mercifully took her when He did. The Lord guided me to find my present companion, the daughter of and Anna Pratt, whom I learned to love as a young boy when they visited our branch in Colonia Dublán, and my mother and father had a great deal of respect and love for them. Elena has been a strong moral and spiritual companion who has helped me stay active in the church and we have served in the Temple together, and we have served a mission to Mexico City. My testimony of the truthfulness of the restored gospel has increased over the years and has become a strong beacon in my life, particularly since returning from the Nauvoo Temple open house experience and hearing our Prophet dedicate that Temple. My roots go back to Nauvoo through the conversion of my grandfather who became Captain of the Mormon Battalion, and later founder of Ogden, Utah. My father's venture into Mexico and his practice of polygamy also is a testimony to the fact that the Lord has guided my forbearers, and were it not for my father's venture to Mexico, I would not be here. I know that the Prophet Joseph Smith was called of God, and that Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father appeared to Him and directed the restoration of the Church, and I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
In the fall of 2002 contact was made through a chat group on Ancestry.com with a member of the Gabaldon family. This contact opened up new information regarding Aron's mother's family the Gabaldon/Gavaldon. The three brothers from Spain had migrated to Mexico and Venezuela. See details on Elena's webpage.
Aron's wife, , died suddenly on Saturday April 16, 2005 around 9:00 p.m. at home at the age of 61 years (Aron's first wife, Jesse Whitsell Brown, also died at 61). Funeral services were held on Wednesday April 20, 2005 at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Chapel and interment was at the Mesa Cemetery.
And then there was Norma from Guadalajara, Mexico. Lived in Cholla for a short while. Divorced 2006.
Milly, who lives in Provo, Utah and in Tempe, AZ, has two sons, Joel and Alex, and two daughters, Paloma and Alondra, from her two previous marriages. She met Aaron through her children.
PAF - Archer files = Orson Pratt Brown + Angela Gabaldon > Aaron Saul Brown
Autobiography of Aron Brown by Aron S. Brown
Additions, photos, bold, [bracketed information], etc. added by Lucy Brown Archer.
Copyright 2001 www.orsonprattbrown.com
Note added by Lucy Brown Archer
From East of Eden by John Steinbeck, Page 297
"The twins came in silently and stood shyly staring at their guest.
"It's a long time since I've seen you, boys. But we named you well. You're Caleb, aren't you?"
"Well, Cal then." And he turned to the other. "Have you found a way to rip the backbone out of your name?"
"Are you called Aaron?"
Lee chuckled. "He spells it with one a. The two a's seem a bit fancy to his friends.""
Wondering why Aaron S. Brown changed his name to Aron.