From a September 13, 1964 newspaper clipping saved by Dr. Lee March, Professor of Political Science at Young Harris College at Young Harris, Georgia:

Pvt. Francis C. Brown, 22, son of Mr. and Mrs. Charles D Brown, Osceola, completed a 12-week relay and carrier operations course at the Army Southeastern Signal School, Fort Gordon, Georgia September 25. Brown entered the Army in April 1964, and completed basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. He is a graduate of Clarke Community High School. Francis is now home on leave and will return to Ft. Gordon, Georgia, for overseas assignment.

My parents were Charles ("Charlie" or "Chuck") David Brown and Viola May White Brown. I lived all my life in Osceola, had all my schooling here, beginning with East Elementary, where that building still stands, although enlarged several times. In seventh grade I went into what formerly was the junior high building, which is now the location of West Ward Manor, and then on to high school where it is now. My favorite teacher was Miss Nelson, who taught history. I really liked her. I didn't go out for sports because at that time my parents couldn't afford to pay for the shoes and other equipment I would have needed. My wife's situation was the same. All her parents and mine could afford was what was needed for the home. My mom and dad always made sure I had clothes to wear, which Mother ordered out of the Alden catalogue. They just bought what I had to have, nothing extra.

I graduated from high school in 1963. I was supposed to graduate in 1962, but I messed up and had to go another half-year. I guess we all mess up at some point. I graduated at the close of the first semester. There were others at the same time and we just went to the superintendent's office at school. They modified the "ceremony," and as I remember it, about all they said was, "Francis Brown completed his course of study, graduated on this day, and received his diploma." They handed it to me in its maroon cover — the school colors being maroon and gold. Nothing fancy. I don't even remember who the superintendent was. The only staff person I remember was Oakley Pickup, the principal. I can see him as if it was yesterday — he was short and bald.

I went to work at Twombley's filling station and then was drafted into the Army in April, 1964. I went to Fort Leonard Wood for basic training, after which I went to Fort Gordon, Georgia, for radio training. The latter was just for radio transmission between units on the base. While I was there, they discovered something wrong with my heart, so even though it was intended that I would be sent overseas, that didn't happen and I went back to Fort Riley, Kansas. I had some more schooling there, but my health condition was confirmed, and I was discharged in November 1965, earlier than expected because of my heart problem.

Janice Blanchard and I had gone together for over two years, but unlike some couples, we decided not to be married before I went into the service. We were married October 13, 1964. We had three children, all boys — Joey Lee, Darren Wayne and Jeff Lynn. Joey is the only one living. He is in Des Moines. The two younger ones both passed away from a genetic disease, cystic fibrosis, which we traced back four generations, when it was called consumption. It is a disease of the lungs and pancreas. The pancreas does not work, and we had to give them medication every time they ate because the pancreas wouldn't digest the food.

Neither of them were ever able to lead a normal life. They were each hospitalized in Iowa City much of their lives. They would be there three or four months at a time. Either Janice or I would stay at home and the other would be with our son. The disease is progressive and Darren reached the time when he was unable to leave the house. He had to be on oxygen 24 hours a day, and there was no such equipment as is available now. We used four big tanks of oxygen a week. Both Janice and I worked, and when I came home, Darren would be sitting at the table doing puzzles or drawing, which he liked to do. He died first — in 1993, 11 days after his 23rd birthday, Janice feels badly because she wasn't with him, but she had been there three or four days so she decided to come home for a few days and I stayed. I was with him at the last when he went into cardiac arrest, and I called Janice's sister to go and be with her and tell her.

Jeff was in Mary Greeley Hospital in Ames for three months before he died. Toward the end, the doctors said, "I don't know how he stays alive." He had deteriorated so much. The night before he passed away, the doctor got us together and talked to him. He told him, "Jeff, it is all right for you to go because your parents know that you are not good. They will be all right. Don't worry about them. They will survive your death and it is all right for you to go." The next morning he was gone. Jeff died September 30, 1994, and Janice was with him. He was 25.

I had a stroke in 1995, and the doctors say it is because of the deaths. We had 11 deaths in five years — our two sons, my wife's dad, and some of our friends. I couldn't handle it. Now I am on a heart pill. I can work as long as I take my medication. I am a security officer at Osceola Foods and have been there 14 years. On that job, I don't have to exert myself very much, which I can't do. The job doesn't call for hard labor, so it is good employment for me. Janice works for Clarke County Home Health Care. She has been there nine or ten years.

Dad and Mother died the same year, 2003. Dad passed away first, on July 19 and 28 days later, August 14, my mom passed away. Dad was taking dialysis when he found out he had colon cancer, and he just gave up. Ten days later he was gone. I became interested in genealogy after they passed on, and have been finding all kinds of information on both my dad's and mom's side, as well as my wife's mom's and dad's sides. I met June Myers from Corning, who helped me a lot. It happened because I was driving a gentleman from Osceola to Creston for his dialysis once a week, and I met her there. She was deep into genealogy and gave me a list of addresses where I can write to get information. I've gotten information that I think pertains to my wife's great-great-great-great granddad Blanchard, an English dignitary back in the 1600s.

The last few months I've slacked off a little but at that time I was strong on it. I was even visiting cemeteries trying to get information. I found out where my great-great-great-granddad White is buried in Illinois. My grandfather was born in Cuba, Illinois. He was part German and part Irish. That is where I got my red hair that is now gray. There is much more I want to learn and I plan to start again.

Our son Joey is in Des Moines. He is divorced and we have custody of his daughter, our only grandchild. She lives with us and we are delighted to have her. She has been in school here for three years. She is 13 now, growing like a weed. She has opportunities Janice and I didn't have, being in soccer and Girl Scouts. She is a blessing to us.

I still work. I retired for awhile but didn't completely quit, which gave me the opportunity to maintain my seniority and benefits. I was working three or four days a week, when they offered me pretty good incentives to come back full time. I work from 7:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. That is the first shift and I have worked the second shift and the third, so now I am back to the first. It works better for me. I can be home when my granddaughter comes home from school. It happens I am on vacation now. I had three weeks coming and I had to use it before November 26 of this year or lose it. Vacation build-up starts over again then. My dad's philosophy and mine are the same. He kept working as long as he could and I intend to do the same.




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Last Revised June 1, 2015