Harry Britton “Britt” Brown, a longtime Wichita booster, philanthropist and former publisher of The Wichita Eagle, has died. He was 87 years old.
Funeral services are pending.
Mr. Brown — great-grandson of Col. Marshall Murdock, who founded The Eagle in 1872 — was one of the family owners of The Wichita Eagle & Beacon Publishing Co. He also served as publisher before retiring as board chairman in 1979.
Throughout much of his career, Mr. Brown was active on several local nonprofit boards and civic projects. Some of the organizations included the American Red Cross, Newman University and the Wichita Art Museum.
Mr. Brown also helped establish the Eagle/Beacon Young Hunters’ Safety Clinic and donated body-armor vests to the Wichita Police Department and the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office.
In 1977, the 9,000-seat arena at the Kansas Coliseum was named for Mr. Brown.
“A lot of what he did for the city, he did quietly,” said his son, Britt M. Brown of Wichita. “He served on an awful lot of boards.”
In addition, Mr. Brown was a patron to the arts and a friend of famed Kiowa artist Blackbear Bosin, sculptor of the Keeper of the Plains. Mr. Brown’s collection of Bosin’s artworks is considered one of the largest by a private Wichita patron, according to information released by his family.
In the early 1960s – while Mr. Brown was at the paper – the Murdock family bought the Wichita Beacon from the Levand family. The two papers, The Eagle and The Beacon, operated as morning and evening papers.
In 1973, both papers were purchased by Ridder Publications, and Mr. Brown remained as publisher, owning the largest amount of stock, according to the book, “Public Journalism: Why telling the news is not enough,” by Davis “Buzz” Merritt.
Mr. Brown grew up in California and was a 1947 graduate of the University of Kansas. He served seven years in the Marine Corps, entering as a private during World War II and being discharged after service in the Korean War as a first lieutenant, his family said.
Mr. Brown is survived by his children Cathy Hedlund and her husband, Randy, Kansas City; Cindy Burgess and her husband, Jim, Wichita; Britt and Lynn Brown, Wichita; Bruce and Sharon Brown, Wichita; nine grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.