Bev Brown (center) with her some of her "grandchildren," Adam Fargher, Tessa Marks, Brady Fry, Spencer Liverman, Josriel Pasikatan, Miguel Delgado and Bryan Barnes.
The best part of funding scholarships for Bev Brown is the chance to meet the students face to face and hear about their accomplishments.
“I feel like I have a lot of adopted grandchildren, and the good thing about that is that they're all doing well!” she said at an annual luncheon with the recipients of the Hal and Bev Brown Scholarship in Oregon State University’s School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.
Bev wasn’t there to boast about herself, but to listen to all of the students’ stories. When coaxed to tell about her background she claimed, “I haven’t done anything.”
The nearly 100 students who have benefited so far from her scholarship program would disagree. The awards are based on need and academic achievement but Bev also stipulated that at least one scholarship a year be awarded to a woman.
The scholarship honors the memory of her late husband, Hal Brown, whom she met in 1943 at a dance. Both students of Oregon State University, she was a studying secretarial science and he was majoring in electrical engineering. Their courtship took a break during World War II when he traveled for Army Signal Corps to set up communications in Europe, the Philippines, and Japan.
But he didn’t leave without asking her to marry him. He popped the question when he returned home from his base camp for a brief stay in Portland where they both grew up. Her engagement ring showed up a few weeks later in her mailbox — sent from New Jersey where he was stationed before shipping out.
While he was gone at war, Bev worked as a secretary for the superintendent of a shipyard, and later for radio station, KEX, in Portland. Before the Browns could begin their life together, Hal wanted to earn his degree in electrical engineering.
“It was always a dream of his to be in communications. He was absolutely determined, and as soon as he came home from overseas the first thing he did is enroll to finish his last two years,” Bev said.
He reached his goal in 1948 when he got his degree and started work right away with Pacific Northwest Bell where he had a successful 33-year career. They settled in Beavercreek, Ore. on 40 acres which was a dream for both of them.
The scholarship is a tribute to Hal’s passion for electrical engineering and a gift that Bev finds personally rewarding.
“It's so gratifying to meet these eager talented young people and know that I made a difference. Some would not have been able to graduate without the scholarship. So it's just a wonderful thing to be able to do,” she said.
–by Rachel Robertson