An Appreciation: Admirers Recall Nat Brown’s Contributions to Town’s Quality of Life

March 4, 2024
Nathaniel K. Brown Photo from

Ralph Hammond was a little kid at the time, but he still remembers being present at the ceremony when Nathaniel K. Brown was inducted as Bedford’s first Eagle Scout.

And over the decades, he said, Brown “was always active where he could make something good happen in the town.”

Brown, 91, longtime Bedford attorney and business leader, died Thursday, Feb. 28. A funeral service is scheduled for Tuesday at 11 a.m. in First Church of Christ Congregational, 25 The Great Road. 

Early in his career with his father’s law office, Brown became involved with the town’s culture of historic preservation. In 1962, he was named to the study committee that defined the Bedford Center Historic District, and was a member of the first Historic District Commission in 1964. 

He also was a member of the Historical Commission for several years during the 1970s, and chaired the town’s celebration of the American Revolution Bicentennial in 1975.

But the event that engendered his most devotion began with the purchase by his mother, Town Historian Louise K. Brown, of the Job Lane House on the open market in 1973, and her subsequent donation of the historic structure to the town.

“I believe Nat worked with his mother to purchase the house,” said Jeannette Pothier, who became involved with the property before it opened to the public and was one of the original four tour guides.

“Nat and Lloyd Walker were the first two people to go into the house – I don’t know if they had a key. They were just so excited,” Pothier recounted. “They thought we had something that the town would love and that all of us would fall in love with the house.”

She said Brown played a significant role in the planning and constructing of the nearby barn that has complemented the house since 1993. Pothier, who served as barn director, said, “Every time there was something he could do, he was there first. There is nothing Nat would not have done if we wanted it. He was an amazing man.”

Hammond, a retired educator, and longtime member and current co-president of the Rotary Club of Bedford, said Brown “was the leader in getting Rotary involved with the barn. He was working on it all the time – he got the wiring from the house into the barn,” and built the pathway connecting the buildings.

Hammond said Brown’s dedication to the historic house, inspired by his mother’s acquisition, was personal, “and he connected Rotary to it, always one project after the other.”

He said Brown attended almost every club meeting “almost as long as he has been in Rotary since 1961,” including just days before his passing. “He contributed a lot to Rotary grants and programs – he was the primary supporter of my literacy project in Nepal,” Hammond reported.

Jon O’Connor, former Scoutmaster of Bedford Troop 194, said Brown was “very supportive of our troop and the Scouting program in Bedford.”

O’Connor said the troop recognized Brown’s service several years ago by presenting him with its first Norman Rockwell Award, named for the noted artist whose paintings personified Scouting. The award honored Brown’s record of “supporting and encouraging the Scouting program above and beyond,” O’Connor related.

Brown, who has two grandsons who achieved the rank of Eagle, would link the troop to his own childhood involvement with the movement, leading hikes to campsites on the family property where “the stones had been left in place from prior generations,” O’Connor said.

Visiting hours will be held at Shawsheen Funeral Home, 281 The Great Road, Bedford, from 4 to 7 p.m. on Monday, March 4. The funeral procession will gather at the Shawsheen Funeral Home at 9:45 a.m. on Tuesday, March 5, followed by a Funeral Service in the First Church of Christ, Congregational, 25 The Great Road, Bedford at 11 a.m.

Burial will follow at 1:30 p.m. in Shawsheen Cemetery in Bedford. Family and friends are kindly invited.

In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation in Nat’s memory to the Bedford Rotary Club, Bedford Scout Troop 194, or the American Cancer Society.

Click here to read the complete obituary.

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