Conrad Brown has achieved many things in his 87 years, but if you were to talk to him today his proudest moment would be the birth of his first great-granddaughter just a week ago.
Brown has been a lifelong resident of Yadkin County. He was born in the North Oak Ridge area. He lived there until he was nine years old. After that his family moved to Yadkinville when his father took a job as a jailer for the Yadkin County Sheriff’s Department.
After his father decided to end his career with the sheriff’s office he went into business with a friend and they opened Hayes and Brown. The store sold furniture, clothing and general items. After the death of Mr. Hayes, Brown’s father bought the other half of the store and turned it into the family business.
“Mom and dad, my brother and sister and I all worked in the store,” Brown said.
In 1941 things changed for Brown when World War II began. He was drafted in August of 1943 and served in the United States Army for two years. He did his basic training in Fort Bragg where he trained in radio school.
“After that they sent me to Oklahoma for advanced training in repairing radios,” Brown said. “On May 1, 1944 I got on a liberty boat and we set out for Italy.”
In Italy Brown served in a search light outfit, where he would shine searchlights on German aircrafts so that his fellow soldiers could fire on it.
“I hadn’t trained for that job, so I didn’t understand why they put me there but it meant that I wouldn’t be on the front lines, so I was very fortunate,” Brown said.
Brown even provided moonlight during his time in service. He and other soldiers were given the task of turning searchlights on clouds at night and the clouds would reflect the lights back down to the battlefield and allow his platoon to see enemies approaching the frontlines.
“We were close enough to the front lines that we could hear the small arms fire and we could hear the artillery going over us but we were never hit,” Brown said.
Brown’s service ended Christmas of 1945. His boat home hit a storm at the Rock of Gibraltar. Brown said it was the worst storm the North Atlantic had seen in 10 or 15 years. He said most of the ships returned to a dock in Naples but not his.
“The captain of our ship said he had reservations in New York on Christmas day and he was going to keep them so we came across,” Brown said.
After he returned Brown resumed working in the family business. He met his wife, Martha, in Mocksville. They courted a year before Brown popped the question and they married in 1948. They celebrate their 64th anniversary this month. The couple had two sons, Conrad “Buster” Brown and Foy Brown.
“The good Lord has been good to us,” Brown said. “He gave us two children, five wonderful grandchildren and one great-grandchild, a little girl who’s cute as button.”
In September 1994 Brown retired from the family business. He took up volunteering with organizations like the Yadkin Family YMCA, Yadkin Valley Hospice, the Yadkinville Elementary School reading lab, the Yadkin Masonic Lodge and he serves on the honor guard through the VFW in Hamptonville.
“Our VFW is an All American post and there are not many that get that distinction,” Brown said. “We’re just a good, clean bunch of old country boys.”
Brown is also a dedicated member of First Baptist Church since 1934, where he has served as a deacon and an usher.
When Brown isn’t busy dedicating his time to others he enjoys camping. He took camping trips every year up until two years ago.
“We made three trips cross country,” Brown said. “We’ve been in every state, to Nova Scotia and to Prince Edward Islands.”
Brown said that he and his wife have also enjoyed playing golf and tennis together. While the couple is not as active in sports as they once were they do enjoy attending sporting events. Brown’s favorite event to attend is Forbush High School football games.
Brown said that he has seen lots of change over the years in Yadkinville, almost to the point that it’s almost unrecognizable to the Yadkinville of his childhood days. Despite all the change, Brown said there’s nowhere else he would rather call home. His wife agrees.
“Conrad is very dedicated citizen to Yadkin County,” Martha Brown said. “It would take all the horses in the county to drag him out of here and now he’s getting to where he doesn’t even want to leave it much to go on vacation.”
Reach Lindsay Craven at 679-2341 or at lcraven@heartlandpublications.