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Local News

November 9, 2012

Friends cope with deaths of Franklin couple


“If Wendy said there was a need, there was a need,” Patterson said. “Wendy was a woman of her word — she could be trusted.”

George Brown, a past president of the Oneonta Rotary, described Wendy Brown as “an extraordinarily competent, insightful, quiet individual.”

“She got things done,” Brown said. He also noted that the Browns showed affection toward each other, which isn’t typical for long-married couples, he said.

“They were outwardly and publicly affectionate with one another,” Brown said.

Wendy Brown graduated from the State University College at Oneonta in 1982, and Willis Brown graduated from SUNY Oneonta in 1983, college officials said Thursday.

“She loved the community, loved the area and worked hard to make it better,” John Campbell, mayor of Franklin, said Thursday. Among community projects, he said, she was a founding member of the Save Our School committee in Franklin. She also walked every morning along Franklin streets by herself and sometimes with her husband, Campbell said.

At the SUNY Delhi, Provost John Nader said the shooting deaths were a situation impossible to reconcile with the Willis Brown known at the campus.

“We’re confronted with the incomprehensible,” Nader said. Brown was a pleasant person, a dedicated teacher and skilled engineer who generally gleaned high praise, Nader said. Faculty and staff have stepped forward to cover his classes and advising assignments, Nader said.

Brown joined the SUNY Delhi faculty, which enrolls about 3,550 students, in 2005. He also worked with businesses through campus programs, campus officials said, and tutored students.

Faculty, students, administrators and other staff met informally and at organized meetings Thursday to remember Brown and cope with questions and feelings, Nader said.

“He touched many lives,’’ Nader said. “There were tears being shed.”

Brown tutored students on his own time, Nader said.

That interest in helping academically challenged students was a characteristic that colleagues said they especially want to be included among memories of Brown.

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