William Denis "Billy" Brown III
|Louisiana State Senator for Ouachita, Lincoln, and Morehouse parishes (subsequently District 35)|
|Preceded by||Jamar Adcock|
|Succeeded by||Charles C. Barham|
H. Lawrence Gibbs
|Born||November 20, 1931|
Vicksburg, Warren County
Reared near Lake Providence
|Died||March 6, 2012 (aged 80)|
Monroe, Ouachita Parish
|Cause of death||Alzheimer's disease|
|Resting place||Cuba Farm near Monroe|
|Spouse(s)||Eleanor H. Brown (surviving spouse)|
|Children||William Denis Brown, IV|
Priscilla Brown O'Quinn
|Alma mater||Lake Providence High School|
Louisiana State University Law Center
|Branch/service||United States Army|
Fort Benning, Georgia (1955–1957)
William Denis Brown III (November 20, 1931 – March 6, 2012), known as Billy Brown, was a Democratic lawyer and businessman from Monroe, Louisiana, who was a member of the Louisiana State Senate from 1968 to 1976.
Brown's grandfather, the first William Denis Brown, was born in 1876 in Terrebonne Parish in South Louisiana, where he managed a sugar plantation. He came to East Carroll Parish at the invitation of an uncle, who was a levee contractor. Brown, I, married into an East Carroll plantation family and founded Providence Drug Company in the parish seat of Lake Providence. In 1907, he purchased Gossypia Plantation. In 1932, he became president of the First National Bank of Lake Providence, by which time he owned ten thousand acres of land.
Brown was born in a hospital in Vicksburg, Mississippi, but reared at Panola Plantation, the northern East Carroll Parish farm of his parents, Denis II, and Martha Brown. He considered Lake Providence to be his hometown. As a child, he was involved in many activities on the plantation and in town. The plantation, located on a small railroad crossing along U.S. Highway 65 North was worked by tenant farmers and during part of World War II German prisoners of war. In 1948, Brown graduated as the valedictorian of Lake Providence High School, where he had also played for the Panthers football team. At the age of seventeen, he left Lake Providence by train to attend a post-graduate year at the since defunct Kentucky Military Institute in Lyndon, Kentucky.
Brown graduated cum laude from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge with a bachelor's degree in commerce. In 1955, he graduated first in his class from the Louisiana State University Law Center. He was a member of Kappa Alpha Order, Phi Kappa Phi, the Order of the Coif and the editorial board of Louisiana Law Review. Immediately after law school, Brown entered the United States Army as an officer through LSU Reserve Officers Training Corps. He was assigned to the Judge advocate's office at Fort Benning, Georgia.
Legal, business and civic endeavors
In 1957, Brown moved to Monroe, where in 1960 he joined the firm Theus, Grisham, Davis, Leigh, to which Brown was added as a full partner. with his mentor having been Thomas Leigh. He handled all kinds of legal cases from insurance companies to victims of personal injury. In addition to his law partnerships, he was chairman of Louisiana Bank and the co-founder of both the Gas Transportation Corporation and Tensas Delta Exploration He had real estate and farming interests too.
He quickly became active in community affairs as a member of the Monroe Chamber of Commerce, Recreation Board, and Rotary International, which named him "Outstanding Man of the Year" in 1966. He left the Roman Catholic faith to join Grace Episcopal Church, of which he was a vestryman from 1960 to 1968. He joined the Masonic lodge and was on the boards of the YMCA, St. Francis Medical Center, United Way, and the Louisiana Forestry Association. He was a charter member of the Louisiana Civil Law Institute.
Brown was married to his wife of fifty-eight years, Eleanor H. Brown. There are three children: William Denis Brown, IV, and wife Kathryn, Priscilla B. O'Quinn and husband David, and Andrew Harris Brown, with his wife Kristen. He was predeceased by a sister, Martha. His younger brothers, Grady and Phillip Brown, operated the family farm near Lake Providence for the fifth generation.
In the Senate, Brown served in the last term of Governor John McKeithen of Columbia south of Monroe. He was floor leader for McKeithen's successor, Edwin Edwards, during which time he led the work of drafting the Louisiana Mineral Code. He served alongside Jamar Adcock, a banker from Monroe, and K.D. Kilpatrick, a funeral home owner from Ruston in Lincoln Parish. In Brown's first term, the district, a variation of what is now District 35, represented by Republican Robert Kostelka, also included Morehouse Parish. Among his colleagues were later Judge Adrian G. Duplantier and convicted felon Michael O'Keefe, both of New Orleans, future U.S. Senator J. Bennett Johnston Jr. of Shreveport, Senate Dean Sixty Rayburn of Bogalusa, Senate President Samuel B. Nunez Jr. of St. Bernard Parish, and the colorful Dudley J. LeBlanc of Abbeville and in the House, the equally flamboyant Shady Wall of Monroe.
Thereafter, Brown was a long-term supporter of Edwin Edwards, who served four nonconsecutive terms as governor. Brown himself once considered running for governor but instead ran for lieutenant governor and then left elective politics. From 1980 to 1988, he was chairman of the Louisiana Board of Ethics during the tenure of Republican Governor David C. Treen and in Edward's third term.
In 1975, Brown was named "Conservationist of the Year" among the elected official category by the Louisiana Wildlife Federation.
Brown died at the age of eighty-one of Alzheimer's disease at his home in Monroe. Services were held on March 9, 2012, at Grace Episcopal, where he led the communion service most Sunday mornings. He is interred privately at Cuba Farm near Monroe, which according to his obituary is "the place he loved dearest near his beloved dogs."
Brown's younger son, Andrew Harris Brown (born June 1965) of Monroe, known as Harris Brown, an oil and gas businessman, was an unsuccessful Republican candidate for Louisiana's 5th congressional district seat in the primary election held on November 4, 2014. The seat was held by the short-term incumbent Republican, Vance McAllister of Swartz in Ouachita Parish, who was engulfed in a personal sexual scandal and lost his reelection bid. Other Republicans in the race were Ed Tarpley, a lawyer from Alexandria and a former district attorney for Grant Parish, the late former U.S. Representative Clyde C. Holloway from Forest Hill in Rapides Parish, and Zach Dasher, a nephew of the Duck Dynasty television series stars Phil Robertson and Si Robertson. The only Democrat seeking the seat, Jamie Mayo, the mayor of Monroe, lost the runoff to still another Republican, Ralph Abraham, a physician from Richland Parish, who still holds the position.
- "Membership of the Louisiana State Senate, 1880-2012" (PDF). senate.la.gov. Retrieved July 13, 2013.
- Frederick W. Williamson and George T. Goodman, eds. Eastern Louisiana: A History of the Watershed of the Ouachita River and the Florida Parishes, 3 vols. (Monroe: Historical Record Association, 1939), pp. 686-87
- "William Denis Brown III". Monroe News-Star, March 9, 2012. Retrieved July 13, 2013.
- "Theus, Grishman, Davis, and Leigh". theuslaw.com. Retrieved July 13, 2013.
- "Former state Sen. Billy Brown dies," March 7, 2012". KATC-TV. Retrieved July 13, 2013.
- "Louisiana Wildlife Federation Conservation Award Winners" (PDF). lawildlifefed.org. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 9, 2015. Retrieved January 8, 2015.
- "Monroe businessman Brown to run for 5th District, May 14, 2014". Monroe News-Star. Archived from the original on May 16, 2014. Retrieved May 15, 2014.
| Louisiana State Senator for Ouachita, Lincoln, and Morehouse parishes (now part of District 35)
William Denis "Billy" Brown III
Charles C. Barham