Faculty, Staff Share Memories of Bob Brown

Bob BrownSARANAC LAKE --  A long-time faculty member at North Country Community College, Bob Brown, passed away on Friday, May 15th.

Known affectionately as “Brownie," Bob joined the college in 1969. He started his career in student services and became a member of the social sciences faculty, teaching courses in sociology and anthropology, among many others. Bob worked for North Country until his retirement in 1996.

"He was part of the first wave of college employees that laid a foundation for the values and practices that continue to guide us today: students first, relationships as fundamental, and kindness," said NCCC President Joe Keegan. "He was beloved by students, faculty and staff and returned that affection to the college. He loved the college and remained interested in and supportive of our work right up to the end. He will be missed."

Many current faculty and staff at the college worked with Bob or had him as a student. We asked them to share a story or a special memory of Bob, which we've collected below for you to read. You will also find a collection of images of Bob, and an audio recording of a story he shared as part of our 50th anniversary celebration. 


I first met Bob as a returning student in Fall 1987 and was in his SOC 101 Intro Sociology class. Not too much later, I met his wife Pat as well. Bob was a dynamic instructor whose teaching style involved a lot of storytelling. In fact, I can still recall some of his lessons and can see him in my mind's eye delivering them up in C-08. I enjoyed his teaching and learned so much from him in that first class that I took every class I could with him (SOC 110 Social Problems, BUS 214 Advertising, and ANT 102 Cultural Anthropology). It was in ANT 102 that I discovered two things that would set the course of the next 31 years of my life: 1) I was hooked on anthropology as a discipline and would go on to major in it and, 2) that I wanted to teach. Bob was a teacher that included what we now call "applied learning" in his courses, and one of those was a presentation on some topic in anthropology. It was that assignment that seemed to crystallize for me that teaching was the right fit for me. When I returned to North Country in 1994, Bill Price (another great instructor and mentor of mine) hired me to teach ANT 102 Cultural Anthropology. Talk about coming full circle!

As has been said, Bob loved the College and our students. You could see it in the way that he treated them. He was quick with a smile and a self-effacing humor and humility that made him an easy individual to like and connect with. He was generous with his time and resources. In spring 1989, Bob and Pat brought a small band of North Country CC students to Montreal for the North East Anthropological Association meetings. It was a blast! Later on, when I was teaching at North Country, I would follow his lead and bring a group of my students to Montreal to visit the archaeology museum there.

He was a gem and one of a kind...we are a better community for his many years of service and a poorer one for his departure..."

-Joe Keegan, President


In 1984, the Zone 9 NYS Basic Training for Municipal Police was held at NCCC in HH-105, which I attended. Bob's  office was right next door, where  my office is now. Much laughter could be heard through the walls, which was a delightful sound to offset the serious nature of our academy. On breaks, he always welcomed us to visit and offered uplifting stories and pearls of wisdom. He had the first "Jackalope" I ever laid eyes on mounted on the wall behind his desk. I think he made it himself. When you met him, you immediately became friends and at the end of your first conversation you had a feeling that you had already known him forever. He touched so many and we are so lucky to have had him as part of our community.

-Mike Saulpaugh, Criminal Justice faculty


Bob Brown was not only one of my favorite professors he was also a wonderful family friend.  When I was a teenage his house was behind my house. One of my greatest memories was babysitting for his nephew. It is funny, one of my dearest friends ended up marrying his nephew. He always had so many people at his house, it was one of my favorite places to be.  Bob and Pat both had, and have a heart of gold. They would do anything for anyone! As his student in Sociology, he asked us to perform a deviant behavior, and write a paper on that behavior. He laughed every time he would see me, and bring that behavior and paper up stating he used that as an example through the rest of his teaching years LOL. Oh my, what a wonderful man. He taught me so many lessons in and out of the classroom. My heart hurts, and I will miss his bear hugs.

-Lisa Symonds, Director of Financial Operations


It was the mid-1990s when I first met Bob Brown. I recall that he was my first academic advisor and he put me at ease immediately with his humor and knowledge. I enjoyed SOC 101 with him and I often left his class in tears of laughter about an ill-fated downhill skiing adventure, or his tales of being mistaken for the great Santa Claus. Over the years I have enjoyed seeing he and Pat in town at various NCCC or community events and will miss these interactions. He was a great advocate for NCCC and the Adirondack region.

-Dr. Stacey L. Mascia-Susice, Professor of English, Humanities Department


While teaching English many years ago, I had the corner office across from Bob's. He was settled in nicely where Mike Saulpaugh sits today. His desk faced the door, and his beloved "Jackalope" wall mount sat prominently in sight on the wall as folks passed by. We generally all left our doors open when on campus in those days. As was his practice in the fall hunting season, a "go bag" of hunting supplies and some clothing hung behind his door. One morning, while he was engaged in teaching back-to-back classes in the classroom building, I decided to spice up his office layout a little. I borrowed a plastic globe-shaped pen dispenser from George Miller in the bookstore just down the hall at the time. I draped one of Bob's handkerchiefs over it, making it look like a fortune tellers ball, hung his rather large camo hunting coat with hood on the back of his chair, stuffed the sleeves with paper, put his hunting gloves in the sleeves and set them around the globe. His jackalope got wedged under the hood of his coat atop the chair, and I put together a quick sign advertising services and prices for "the all seeing Bob," such as palm reading, your future love life, next semester's grades, etc. I sat back and enjoyed everyone's stopping to view it as they passed by. About an hour into the project, I heard a group coming down the hallway, having an animated discussion about finances. Who should appear in front of my open door but college president, Dave Petty, in the process of giving a tour to a group of board of trustee members. They all stopped, looked at the display, looked at Dave, and then passed on down the hall. Dave looked at the display, looked and me, and followed them down the hall. I was gone that day before Bob returned, so I didn't get to see his immediate reaction, but I fully expected to hear about it the next day.

I arrived early the next day, saw Bob's door closed, and noted that the sign was missing. I chuckled to myself as I opened my door. Inside, every single book, and each of piece of desk equipment had been interconnected with string and tape so that it looked like a haunted house in a B grade movie, filled with cobwebs. Bob never said a thing about the Jackalope fortune teller.

-Dave Campbell, Assistant Professor of English


I was fortunate to have Bob Brown as my Sociology instructor. He made the subject interesting with his colorful local lore. I believed I learned the handy phrase "social dynamics" as I completed a field study of the Lake Placid Town Council meeting. Mr. Brown gave the best assignments!

-Jenn Cantwell, Humanities Instructor and LAC Tutor


Bob was a great man. He was a true conservationist and dedicated countless hours volunteering.

Bob loved hunting and fishing and was always willing to provide helpful advice. Former NCCC BOT member Sam Grimone and his son Chris opened Woods and Waters a great outdoor store and I know Bob enjoyed spending time there where I was able to speak to him the past fall about hunting.

-Larry McFaddin, Retired Faculty, Sports and Events Management 



In 2017, the college celebrated it's 50th anniversary with the publication of a special section of the Adirondack Daily Enterprise. As part of that story, Bob Brown and a group of NCCC retirees sat down for an interview with NCCC Communications Director Chris Knight. During the interview, Bob shared a story (that he's told on more than one occasion) about an ox roast and party that took place during the early days of the college, and helped to bring the Saranac Lake community and the college community together.

Click here to listen to that story