Ben Brown, higher education supporter, philanthropist and husband to NAU President Emerita Lovett

Ben Brown

Dr. Benjamin F. Brown IV, 81, died peacefully on Nov. 28, 2011, at his home in Chevy Chase, Md. He is survived by his wife and former president of Northern Arizona University, Clara Lovett, of Chevy Chase and Phoenix; and his brother J. Crozier Brown of Dallas, Texas.

Dr. Brown was born in Temple, Texas, on June 24, 1930, the son of Benjamin F. Brown III and Mary Hunt Brown. He grew up in Waco, Texas, where he attended high school and graduated from Baylor University with a bachelor’s degree in English. He continued his studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder, earning a master’s degree in Latin American studies.

While working for Bank of America in San Francisco, he enrolled in graduate history courses at the University of California, Berkeley, and then transferred to Harvard University, where he earned a doctorate in modern European history. He studied in Italy on a Fulbright scholarship and wrote his dissertation on Sidney Sonnino, Italy’s foreign minister during World War I.

Continuing this work in the 1960s, while teaching at Sonoma State University in California and later at the University of Kansas, Dr. Brown made a landmark archival discovery: Sidney Sonnino’s public papers. The statesman’s heirs thought these papers had been destroyed. This discovery and subsequent publication of selected documents established Dr. Brown as an authority on the history of modern Italy. The American Historical Association awarded him the Howard Marraro Prize and the Guggenheim Foundation awarded him a research fellowship.

Following the Guggenheim fellowship year, Dr. Brown moved to Washington, D.C., joining the Directorate of Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, first as scholar-in-residence and then as senior political analyst. He retired from this second career when his wife, Clara Lovett, the former provost of George Mason University, accepted the presidency of Northern Arizona University in 1993.

An avid traveler throughout his life, Dr. Brown believed that a college education should include opportunities for young people to study and work abroad. For this reason, he personally funded travel scholarship programs at the University of Colorado at Boulder, and at Thunderbird, The Graduate School of Global Management, in Glendale, Ariz.

During his years in Flagstaff, Dr. Brown played a key role in opening a High Altitude Sports Training Center on the NAU campus, led a major fund-raising campaign on behalf of United Way of Northern Arizona, and joined with other community leaders in establishing the Flagstaff Community Foundation.

Moving to Phoenix after his wife’s retirement from NAU, Dr. Brown remained active in civic and philanthropic endeavors, especially in support of the arts. He served as chairman of the board of a family foundation, the B&L Charitable Foundation, and as a trustee of the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra and Actors Theatre of Phoenix.

Memorial services for Dr. Brown will be held at 2 p.m. Jan. 7, 2012, at St. John’s Norwood Episcopal Church in Chevy Chase, Md., and at 11 a.m. Jan. 14, 2012, at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Phoenix.