In Memoriam: Lieutenant Commander Wesley Anthony Brown '49, CEC, USN (Ret.)
It is with a deep sadness and regret that I report the loss of Lieutenant Commander Wesley Anthony Brown ’49, CEC, USN (Ret.) on 22 May. He paved the way for so many and was a true ‘trailblazer’ who became the first African-American to graduate from the Naval Academy. Commander Brown leaves a legacy, not only with the Naval Academy, but with the history he made.
Admiral Bob Natter ’67, USN (Ret), Chairman of the U. S. Naval Academy Alumni Association stated, “Commander Brown’s passing is a difficult one for all of us. He has been an inspiration to those who have followed him, and his legacy will be captured through the Naval Academy’s Wesley A. Brown Fieldhouse, named in his honor. He will be greatly missed.”
Commander Brown is survived by his wife, Crystal of 49 years and their daughters, Willeta Scott and Carol Jackson and sons, Wesley A. Brown, Jr. and Gary Brown.
Our deepest sympathies go out to Commander Brown’s family and they are in our thoughts and prayers. Condolence letters may be sent to:
Mrs. Wesley A. Brown
C/O USNA Alumni Association
247 King George Street
Annapolis, MD 21402
Byron F. Marchant ‘78
President and CEO
USNA Alumni Association and Foundation
Message from the Superintendent to Brigade, Faculty and Staff:
It is my sad duty to inform you of the passing of Lieutenant Commander Wesley Brown, a member of the Class of 1949 and the Naval Academy’s first African American graduate.
Born in Baltimore, MD, and later a resident of Washington, DC, Brown became the first in his family to attend college, enrolling at Howard University in the District of Columbia as an Army Specialized Training Student and an electrical engineering major. Brown was then appointed to the Naval Academy as a Midshipman in 1945. At the Academy Brown was an accomplished athlete. He ran varsity track and cross country for the Brigade, and was a cross country teammate of former President Jimmy Carter, who graduated in the Class of 1947.
Brown was commissioned in the Navy Civil Engineer Corps, rising to Lieutenant Commander before retiring from the Navy in July 1969. A veteran of World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, he helped build houses in Hawaii, roads in Liberia, waterfront facilities in the Philippines, and a seawater conversion plant in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
After retirement, he worked for the New York State University Construction Fund, the New York State Dormitory Authority and the University Planning Office at Howard University. He retired from civilian employment at Howard University in 1988.
He remained closely connected to the Academy, attending events such as the dedication of the Jewish chapel and serving on the Naval Academy Alumni Association Board of Trustees. In May 2008, our newest athletic facility was dedicated in his honor.
LCDR Brown will be remembered for his enthusiasm and leadership, his friendliness, and his strong commitment to the Academy and its mission. He will be deeply missed by his colleagues and his many friends at the Academy.
Our heartfelt condolences go out to the Brown family and I ask that you please keep them in your thoughts and prayers at this most difficult of times.
VADM Michael H. Miller, USN
United States Naval Academy