Born in Whitewater on July 1, 1934, to Freeman and Odelia (Robers) Brown, Don grew up in the Jefferson area where he attended Jefferson High School. He always had several jobs while in high school and bought his first house when he was 16 years old – the start of his building career. Even though he was building houses on the side, he had his own carpet installation business for a few years and then became a carpet sales rep. for World Carpet and some other smaller companies. He ended up being World’s second largest selling sales rep. in the U.S.
On December 15, 1973, he married Judy Stelse. After a little over a year into their marriage, Don decided he had enough of the road life of a salesman, so they purchased the Hadinger Furniture Store in Fort Atkinson and ran it for about 2 ½ years as Brown Furniture. Following a huge going out of business sale, he and Judy went full-time into the building business (Don Brown Builders). Over the 44 years of their marriage, they built homes and businesses in Fort Atkinson, Jefferson, Lake Mills, Watertown, Oconomowoc, Janesville, Lauderdale Lake, WI and in Melbourne and Port St. Lucie, FL.
The only thing Don wasn’t successful in was retiring. It took him three tries. They moved to Florida twice but always ended up coming back home to Fort Atkinson. Their last building project was the Waterford Condos on the river in Fort Atkinson which they finished in 2014 and Don finally retired at the age of 80. Over his lifetime he built or remodeled over 225 residential or commercial projects. His favorite motto was “it only costs a buck more to go first class.”
Don was a member of First Congregational Church in Fort Atkinson. He also enjoyed old cars and could be seen in the summer driving around in his 1976 Cadillac Eldorado convertible. But most of all he just enjoyed being around and socializing with people. He suffered many health issues over the past five years but never gave up and always said “it is what it is.”
He is survived by his wife, Judy; sisters, Delores (Jack) Willegal of Jefferson and Darline (Lloyd) Andrews of Fortville, Indiana; sisters-in-law, Linda Fromader and Shirley (Steve) Erdman; 6 nephews, 2 nieces, 1 great-niece, 3 aunts, several cousins and his little dog, Daisy. He was preceded in death by his parents; father and mother-in-law, Vernon and Erna Stelse; and niece, Diane Bloom.
Memorial services will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, January 27, 2018, at First Congregational Church, 31 Milwaukee Avenue W. in Fort Atkinson. Visitation will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. on Friday at the church and from 10 a.m. at the church until time of service.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to First Congregational Church or Tomorrow’s Hope.
Special thank you to everyone at Alden Estates and Fort Health Care Intensive Care Unit for the excellent care Don received.
Dunlap Memorial Home in Fort Atkinson is assisting the family.