Deceased May 27, 2015
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It is with most profound sorrow that I inform the Amherst College community of the death of my friend and college roommate, Dr. Kenneth A. Brown, Class of 1952, of Detroit, Mich., on May 27, 2015. Ken came to Amherst from Warren, Ohio, where his father was a doctor.
Like all of the Ivy League colleges and universities in 1948 when Ken and I entered as freshmen, there was a quota system that strictly limited the number of black, Jewish and Catholic students admitted. In the case of us black students, only two of us were admitted each year, and we had to room together. Fortunately, Ken and I immediately formed a friendship that lasted all of our years together at Amherst and until Ken's death.
Ken was a warm, easy going and studious roommate who joined the Lord Jeffery Amherst Club with me at a time when the Amherst fraternity system was facing a membership crisis due to student opposition to the prevailing practice of excluding minority group students from membership. What few of our classmates knew was that, at the same time, Ken's parents' newly built home in Warren, Ohio, was bombed by white racists resentful of the visible prosperity of the Brown family. Thanks to those same racist townspeople, Ken's local Selective Service Board drafted him into the army in his junior year at a time when college students were routinely being deferred from military service in order to complete their studies. After his military service, Ken returned to Amherst to complete his undergraduate studies.
Despite such adversity, Ken never showed bitterness. Instead, he bore the burden of racism with a grace and maturity that earned him the respect and affection of all who knew him. His personal and professional achievements were effective and eloquent responses to the burdens he was forced to bear.
From Amherst, Ken went to Case Western Reserve Medical School in Cleveland where his specialty was urology. Upon graduation Ken set up a practice in Detroit moving into the counseling of drug addicts in his later years.
Ken is survived by his wife, Betty, and two daughters. Ken was one of my oldest and dearest friends. I shall miss our periodic telephone chats. May his soul rest in peace.
Ambassador Ulric Haynes Jr. '52