It all started with gross-smelling food at a dining hall on the Virginia Tech campus some 45 years ago.
That was the start of Greg and Tina Brown’s story, which would continue for the rest of his life.
Having married in 1973, the couple lived in numerous cities around the country before retiring to Juneau in 2006.
The decision to make Juneau their last stop was an easy one for the duo, who had been travelling to Alaska every summer for nearly 30 years to backpack in Denali National Park.
“When we chose Juneau, the wildlife and the Tongass were the main reasons we came here,” Brown said. “We loved taking long walks and just talking.”
Greg Brown died from a rare form of cancer at home in Juneau Sunday. He was 63.
Though the Browns lived in Juneau just seven years, they quickly became involved with many aspects of Juneau business and life. That involvement included Greg Brown giving numerous talks about wildlife, energy and whales at various forums such as at the University of Alaska Southeast.
“He was an idea man, so he was always working on ideas to make things better for Juneau,” Tina Brown said, “and he always had projects going on.”
He also served as the chair and vice-chair for the Juneau Douglas Advisory Committee, which reports to the Department of Fish and Game, and was involved with the Charter Boat Owners’ Association. He nearly won a seat in the city Assembly, and often testified at different venues on wildlife issues.
“He wasn’t the type to sit back and relax,” Tina Brown said.
Greg Brown had a wide-reaching appreciation for wildlife and the environment that influenced his business decisions before his retirement. He called himself an “environmental capitalist,” Brown said.
At the center of his environmental consciousness was a deep appreciation and adoration for whales, she added.
The couple ran an education-based whale watching company called Weather Permitting Alaska while in Juneau. Due to Greg Brown’s declining health the company stopped taking customers out at the end of June, but the assets were sold to an employee, and Tina Brown is hoping the tradition continues.
“He loved the whales so much, and he was always out with them,” Brown said, adding that he regularly attended national and international conferences on whales to broaden his understanding of the large mammals.
The family is requesting anyone that wishes to donate in Greg Brown’s name to do so at either whaletrust.org, planetwhale.com or acsonline.org. Prior to his death, Greg Brown requested no services be held to prevent attention from centering on him, Brown said.
“That’s just not the type of man he was,” she added.
Instead, friends are encouraged to remember Greg Brown in their own ways, either by stopping by to share stories and fond memories with Tina Brown, or on their own.
“I want people to know the cheerful, bright person he was,” Tina Brown said. “He made me laugh until his last days. He could still do that.”