By Dyke Hendrickson
---- — NEWBURYPORT — C. Bruce Brown, former city councilor and father of U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, died yesterday. He was 75.
C. Bruce Brown, whose first name was Claude, had suffered from Parkinson’s disease and had been hospitalized or in assisting living facilities in recent months.
The death was announced by the senator’s office. Funeral details were incomplete at press time.
Brown served as a city councilor in Newburyport for more than a decade, though he had a lengthy interregnum between tenures.
He was a city councilor from 1970 to 1973, serving as representative from Ward 2. From 1972-73, he was the president of the council.
Brown served again from 1992 to 2001, representing Ward 1 and his home community of Plum Island. He was president of the council briefly in 1997.
“Bruce was a likable, friendly guy,” said Erford Fowler, who served on the City Council with Brown in the ‘90s.
“On the council, he would listen the views of his constituents, but he would vote his own mind. He and I didn’t always agree, but we got along well.”
Frank Cousins, Essex County sheriff who served on the council with Brown in the ‘90s, said, “I liked Bruce. He advocated for Plum Island, and he gave a lot of time to the community.
“He was a great supporter of Yankee Homecoming. And he did a lot for the Jimmy Fund, and for public housing. He supported many activities in the city.”
Former Mayor George Lawler, another municipal leader who worked with Brown in the ‘90s, said, “He did a good job for the people in Ward I, and was easy to work with. I enjoyed serving with him.”
Family friends say that Brown discovered Newburyport while stationed a Pease Air Force Base in Portsmouth, N.H., in the late ‘50s.
During his working life, he sold insurance and advertising, and at one time opened a country store in Salisbury.
He also ran a tourist boat on the Merrimack River, the Sabino.
“I knew Bruce first at Pease,” said Fowler. “We spent a lot of time at the gym together — he played basketball and I played baseball, but we both hung around the gym a lot. He was an active guy.”
After his tenure on the council in the early ‘70s, Brown moved to western Massachusetts. Regarding public life, he ran for the Statehouse there but was defeated, friends recall.
He returned to Newburyport, and in terms of civic life, he ran for the House against Cousins in 1992 in the Republican primary.
“I beat him, but it was a good campaign,” said Cousins yesterday. “We never had a bad word as a result of that race, and we always worked together well.”
Brown was remembered yesterday as a contributor to the community.
Judy Lacroix, former chairwoman of Yankee Homecoming, praised Brown for his work with that event.
“Bruce was a great volunteer, and he organized the annual collection at the parade for the Jimmy Fund,” she said.
Her son, Jason LaCroix, who himself was chairman of Yankee Homecoming, said, “Scott was chairman in 1982, and was on the board for many years. He was devoted to the Jimmy Fund collection at the parade, and only gave it up when his health deteriorated.
“He will be missed.”
When Scott Brown ran for the Senate two years ago, Brown was active in putting up signs and introducing his son to friends in the community.
“Bruce and Scott came to City Hall when Scott was running,” said Richard Jones, city clerk. “They worked well together, and Bruce was very much behind the campaign.”
The work on the campaign appeared to strengthen the bond between father and son.
Brown divorced when Scott Brown was 1. Scott Brown mostly lived in Wakefield with his mother, but spent portions of the summer on Plum Island with his father.
“Growing up, my relationship with my dad was a complicated one,” Brown said in a statement.
“As we have both matured, our relationship, respect and love for each other also matured. He was a good man with a big heart.
“Gail, Ayla and Arianna and I are thankful for his wife, Peggy, her family and their unwavering love for him during his final days. I will miss his guidance and sense of humor.”
Tom O’Brien, president of the City Council who once served with Brown, said, “I also had the pleasure of serving with Bruce on the Housing Authority and his input has been missed in the past months due to his illness and his not being not able to attend meetings.
“He always had the constituents and residents on his mind and worked to make their lives better. It will be a great loss.”