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Wednesday, April 9, 2003 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Winston D. Brown, builder of landmarks

Seattle Times Eastside bureau

Winston Darby Brown was the ultimate family man.

Even though he was president and then chairman of the board for Howard S. Wright Construction when the company built the Space Needle, many Seattle skyscrapers and a number of Northwest pulp mills, Mr. Brown said they were no comparison to what was happening at home.

"To Papa, as he was called by all of us, his most successful building project was his family," said his son, Ned Brown of Milton, Pierce County. "He was all the things that go along with being true to family. He was a good father, good husband, wonderful grandfather and great-grandfather."

Mr. Brown, 95, died in his sleep at the Pacific Regent retirement facility in Bellevue on March 25.

Mr. Brown started his career with Howard S. Wright in the 1940s. He was president of the company when Seattle businessmen began planning the Century 21 Exposition, a world's fair that opened in 1962.

He and architect John Graham, and probably with some advice from University of Washington architecture professor Victor Steinbrueck, managed to design and complete the Space Needle, including the revolving restaurant at the top, in less than a year. At the same time, Mr. Brown oversaw construction of the Seattle Center Coliseum (now KeyArena) and the monorail.

"The Seattle Center buildings were just the tip of the iceberg," said Ned Brown. "He was the driving force behind many, many projects in Seattle, including the IBM Building, the Bank of California, Lloyd Building and Norton Building."

According to his son, Mr. Brown knew that the pulp mills he built in Everett, Tacoma, Ketchikan and Sitka had no curb appeal, but from an engineering standpoint they were construction feats he was proud of.

Mr. Brown was born to George and Myrta Brown in Everett on July 8, 1907. He met his future wife, Ann Donovan, when both were seniors at Everett High School. He earned a business-administration degree in 1929 from the University of Washington.

A longtime member of Broadmoor Golf Club in Seattle, Mr. Brown and his golfing buddies were known as the Dawn Patrol or Dew Sweepers, according to former neighbor, Delta Tau Delta fraternity brother and longtime family friend John Cockburn.

A drinking fountain on the ninth hole has a plaque that still commemorates the Dawn Patrol members, who included Mr. Brown, Angelo Ghiglione, Carl Erickson, Barney Poor, and later Bob Potter and Ted Lund.

"Darby and the others called it a foot washer," said Dan Hill in the Broadmoor Pro Shop. "They always complained that the water sprayed their feet. But they were out there at dawn just about every morning to play golf."

The Browns, an avid yachting family, were longtime members of the Seattle Yacht Club.

Mr. Brown was a member of the Washington Athletic Club and the Rainier Club.

In 1978 Mr. Brown was honored by the Washington Region of the National Conference of Christians and Jews for his community work for such groups as the Boys Clubs of Seattle, Junior Achievement of Seattle and Camp Brotherhood. He was also a past president of the Seattle Chamber of Commerce.

His first wife died Oct. 26, 1983. In 1997, at the age of 90, Brown married Sylvia Carpenter.

In addition to his wife and son Ned Brown, he is survived by a brother and sister-in-law, Sherrill and Kay Brown of Bellingham; a daughter, Louisa Pierson of Langley; son Darby Brown of Boston; 13 grandchildren; and 11 great-grandchildren.

The family celebrated Mr. Brown's life with a private service.

Remembrances may be made to Habitat for Humanity, c/o Sacred Heart Catholic Church, 9640 N.E. 14th St., Bellevue, WA 98004.

Sherry Grindeland: 206-515-5633 or sgrindeland@seattletimes.com

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