What was the secret to his longevity? Let’s find out. Born on June 22, 1907 in Hutchinson, Kan., just 3 ½ years after the Wright Brothers flew their first airplane, Wesley Brown graduated from the Kansas City School of Law in 1933, in the height of the Great Depression.
He then practiced law and later became a county attorney and then a bankruptcy judge. Then in 1962, President Kennedy appointed him to the federal district court in Kansas.
Over the next nearly 50 years, U.S. District Judge Brown earned a reputation as a scrupulously honest and dedicated judge, who tolerated no nonsense from lawyers, insisting they be on time, be prepared and be on point, dress properly and conduct themselves respectfully.
Judge Brown was still actively presiding over cases until shortly before he passed away in his sleep at the age of 104, on January 23rd, 2012. He had been slowed only by his declining health near the end of his life, but his mind was still sharp as can be.
More than 400 people gathered at his funeral service to mourn his loss and to share stories about him. Judge Brown’s law clerk for the past 24 years, Mike Lahey said the judge often proudly recited the oath he took in 1962 to become a district judge, and the oath he took to become a Boy Scout in 1920.
His Boy Scout oath was this: “On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the scout law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight,” according to Mike Lahey.*
Mike added, “To Judge Brown those words were never a simple rite of passage. To him, they were the aspirations of what a man should be and he adopted them as a judge for the rest of his life.” *
To what can we attribute Judge Brown’s remarkable longevity? “He was driven by his work,” Mike stated. “He loved it, and it was his reason for living at the end.” ** Judge Brown had found what he loved to do in life and for nearly 50 years looked forward each day to doing it. And even past the age of 100, he bounded up the steps to his 4th floor office.
His survivors include a son and daughter, four granddaughters and eight great-grandchildren but they also include the thousands of judges, lawyers and law clerks he influenced, as well as the community at large he helped to protect.