Arnold K. Brown Jr. Was Conservationist, Sailor

Arnold Kaywood Brown Jr. of Vineyard Haven died peacefully on Wednesday after a valiant struggle with lung cancer. He was 68 years old.

Arnold was born in Providence, R.I., on May 2, 1933. He was the only son of the late Arnold Kaywood Brown and the late Alva Jefferds Brown. He grew up in Barrington, R.I., and was educated at Moses Brown School in Rhode Island and Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire. He was graduated with honors from Harvard University in 1955, majoring in history.

Arnold, or Brownie as he was affectionately known, met his wife, Edie, 50 years ago while a freshman at Harvard. They married the day after college graduation, enjoyed a two-month honeymoon traveling throughout the United States, and started married life in Germany, where Arnold served several years as a commissioned U.S. Army officer. They were later stationed in Texas and Missouri, until Arnold left the Army in 1962.

Arnold and Edie returned to Barrington, where he began his career at the Fram Corporation. He soon headed Fram's international division, traveling extensively throughout the world, and then served as executive vice president. In 1974, Arnold left Fram and moved with Edie to the Vineyard full-time. They purchased and expanded Woodchips Designers Inc., which they owned until 1990.

Arnold loved Vineyard life and treasured his 30 years as a year-round resident. He had been introduced to the Island in the early 1950s through Edie's family. His in-laws were the late Edwin and Helen Chinlund of Vineyard Haven and New York.

Arnold was involved in wildlife and environmental conservation. In the early days of Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary, he helped to lay the groundwork for the sanctuary that exists today. It was at Felix Neck that he met his dear friend, Gus Ben David, who introduced him to the birding world. He became an avid birder, traveling frequently with Edie to scope out the latest species. Arnold also spearheaded Programme for Belize, an effort that ultimately set aside 700,000 acres of rain forest for conservation.

The family home on Grove avenue was warm, welcoming and housed many of Arnold's entrepreneurial ventures. Working with his treasured, invaluable assistant, Daryl Knight, he maintained his connection to Belize through a travel organization that booked accommodations at the Chan Chich lodge. His other ventures included caretaking and a mail-order book business.

During the past six years, Arnold managed the Vineyard Haven Yacht Club. He loved being out on the water, and truly had an appreciation for a wild, windy day. He especially enjoyed his role as mentor to the latest generation of sailors, and implemented a program bringing sailing to Island youth. He was touched to have an annual high school team racing event named in his honor this fall.

Through the years, Arnold held many positions that reflected his varied interests, including commodore of the Vineyard Haven Yacht Club, treasurer of the Southern Massachusetts Sailing Association, finance committee member for the town of Tisbury, deacon at the First Congregational Church and board member for a number of organizations including the Visiting Nurses Association, Massachusetts Audubon Society and Hawk Mountain Wildlife Sanctuary.

His years on the Vineyard were rich and full of friendship and warmth. If you were fortunate enough to walk down the street with Arnold Brown, you quickly realized the wide variety of his many friends and acquaintances. He was a master of conversation, an absolute individual. He was an interesting, vital, vibrant person, and his dynamic presence will be sorely missed.

He is survived by his wife, Edith Chinlund Brown; his daughters, Lynne Brown Strang and Cynthia Brown Andrews, and their husbands; five grandchildren and one great-grandson.

A memorial service will be held at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 9, at the First Congregational Church in West Tisbury. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary, Box 494, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568.