People of Etowah – Willie Brown


Name: Willie Brown

Where were you born and raised?

“Raised in Gadsden. Born in Elmore County.” 

What is your occupation? 

“Retired from Uncle Sam. I was a mechanic for Etowah County from 1963 to 1997. I was president of the local union from 1963 to 1985. I was shop supervisor for District 2 of Etowah County. I served two terms as a commissioner after I retired in 1997.”

What made you decide to work in your field?

“I wanted to be a doctor, instead I was a doctor of motors as an auto mechanic and welding.”

Tell us about your family and pets.

“They are all deceased except myself and my brother. I have six children Willie Brown, III, Vallery Jean Brown, Timothy Wayne Brown, Sheila Jones, Everick Hill and Deverick Hill, who are twins.”

Describe an average day in your life.

“I look at TV, what I do during the day is all I can do. If I could see, I’d be working somewhere. Take care of my plants, go to Waffle House for breakfast and if there are any meetings I get there. I still cook. I can still make a meal. I like to go fishing.”

What school or schools have you attended?

“Gadsden Tech for auto mechanics and Gadsden State for welding and technology. I also did 150 hours of county and state government at Auburn University. For high school, I went to Carver, Class of 1955.”

What do you like to do in your free time?

“Fishing, love to cook and I go with my daughter when she says we got to go somewhere.”

What would you say is your greatest accomplishment?

“Serving two terms in the commission. Served 28 years in the military in the U.S. Army in East 6. I was staff sergeant. Retired.” Brown also had a building dedicated to him in 2010. The building is named the Willie F. Brown Maintenance and Engineering Facility located on Tuscaloosa Avenue in Gadsden.

Name the one person that has been the most influential in your life. Why?

“Me and my brother started fixing bicycles together in the back yard. My brother, Charles Coleman Jr., and I always stuck together.”

To what do you credit your success?

“I have some people I need to name. Billy Yates, at the courthouse. Wily Hickman, the probate judge. Bobby M. Junkins. Who helped me out most was Craig Ford’s dad, Joe Ford. He was like a papa to me. Charles Bale, who lived across the street from me. Donald Morgan. William Bell.”

Are you involved in any service organizations?

“Salvation Army advisory board, Gadsden State Alumni Association, Patriots Association, Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church, chairman of the deacon board and president of the male chorus.”

What is your favorite thing about this community?

“I got good neighbors. I been right here in this neighborhood since August 1985. The Moons and the Browns are like family. They look out for each other.”

What would you like to see change in the community?

“I’d like to see Etowah County grow. I been on people about developing Little Canoe Creek. There’s property there, and we started putting it together in 2008. I think they are working on it right now, trying to get it. And we need another plant here. We need some plants here, to build some, to give people jobs.” 

What are three words that describe you?

“Progress-minded, punctual and accurate. I want to do it right the first time.” 

What is something surprising that many do not know about you?

“I guess they know everything now. One thing, I wouldn’t run and tell people what happened at meetings. If they wanted to know, they should have come to the meetings. I helped pave Tuscaloosa Avenue, too.”

What is your favorite quote?

“In this country, you always have to watch your back. Watch your back.”

What is on your bucket list?

“If I could see, I’d be working still. The rocking chair is not the place for me.”

What is your hidden talent?

“When I could hear, I used to be able to listen to a vehicle and tell what was wrong with it.”

What advice would you give yourself as a child?

“Whatever you have to do, do a good job. Wily Hickman told me that.”

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