As a columnist and editorial writer, Randy Brown kept his sentences short and his sentiments blunt. Whether in print, on TV or on stage as the host of Gridiron, he was a big personality who said whatever needed saying with punch and swagger.
Brown, who died Wednesday at age 73 after a long illness, spent 30 years working in Wichita media, including nearly 21 years at The Eagle and five as editorial page editor.
He pushed for solutions on trash, transportation, a downtown arena, education, the environment and much more. And he always sided with common sense, especially when confronted with partisan nonsense and those he called CAVEpeople (Citizens Against Virtually Everything).
In recent years he was senior fellow at Wichita State University’s Elliott School of Communication. He also had the rare journalist’s experience of serving on some governing bodies he had written about, including the park board, the library board, the Citizens’ Utility Ratepayer Board and the Kansas Board of Healing Arts. And as executive director of the Kansas Sunshine Coalition for Open Government, Brown always piped up whenever public officials treated transparency and, it follows, the public with disdain.
The Dallas native dearly loved Wichita, though he was known to tell it to grow up and think big in deciding what it wanted its future to be. “Wichita may have plenty of needs, but it has even more potential,” he wrote in his last regular column in 2001. “Our problems are largely those of attitude, of figuring out how we can do things instead of dwelling on why we can’t, of talking the community up and not down.”
(To read a few of Randy Brown’s many Eagle columns, go to Kansas.com/opinion.)