DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — James “Jim” Brown, 57, was a family man, an inspirational teacher, a mentor, a coach, a true friend and a willing volunteer who gave more to his community and his school than he ever realized.
Those who were on the receiving end of the Foxcroft Academy teacher’s benevolence and friendship packed the Foxcroft Academy gymnasium and entryway Thursday to celebrate his life.
“As we all go through life we leave trails that mark where we have been,” Dr. Ray Webb, Foxcroft Academy headmaster, said Thursday. “Some of these are marked by facts and some of these are noticeable only in how we have influenced the lives of the people around us. In Jim’s case, these trails merged in his working life at Foxcroft Academy.”
Brown and three of his close friends — Kevin Stitham, David Perkins and Robert Pomeroy, all of Dover-Foxcroft — had been crossing First Buttermilk Pond in Bowerbank in a boat Saturday when the boat took on water and capsized. Brown and Pomeroy died while attempting to reach shore.
“On Saturday, Jim set out from his favorite place on earth with three of his best friends to deliver a pie to some fellow hunters,” Ryan Stitham, Kevin Stitham’s son, told the audience. He said Brown had made an apple pie earlier Saturday at Stitham’s camp where the foursome had enjoyed years of friendship and solitude.
The popular teacher and head of the English department was remembered with tears and laughter as those closest to him recalled tender moments.
In a speech prepared by Brown’s sons Scott and Eric Brown, read by their uncle Steve Brown, the men recalled their father as a friend who was loving, generous and fair; who was known to scrub his own classroom, who lent the family car to a student so he could take his driving test and who hired local students to work around the house so they could get spending money. “Those acts of generosity were not uncommon,” they wrote.
Former FA assistant headmaster Doug Cummings noted Brown also had a romantic side. He recalled one Valentine’s Day, when he, Stitham and Brown took their wives out to celebrate. Brown had called ahead and had three roses on the table waiting for their wives. Each was accompanied by a card that read “I love you,” signed by the husband. Cummings said his wife looked at him, Cummings looked at Stitham and they both looked at Brown, who simply smiled.
Kevin Stitham also remembered his lifelong friend. “I have never had a better friend nor have I known a better man,” he said Thursday. He said Brown was a comfort and delight to be around. Stitham said he would greatly miss Brown but he would continue to celebrate him through Brown’s sons and his grandsons at the First Buttermilk Pond camp.
Brown’s thoughtfulness and caring were mentioned throughout the ceremony. Dawn MacPherson-Allen, a former FA English teacher who taught with Brown, called Brown a caretaker of his teachers and his friends. He always remembered them with a handwritten note on special occasions and called when they were out sick. She said she didn’t think Brown ever took a real sick day; rather, when he was out, he was on his raft, and First Buttermilk Pond was his Mississippi.
Because First Buttermilk Pond held such a dear spot in Brown’s heart, his family plans to spread his ashes there in the spring.