WINDHAM — Arnold Brown captured enemy soldiers and saved 10 of his own men’s lives while wounded during the Korean War. He was recognized for his valiant efforts as a Marine with a Bronze Star and four Purple Hearts, but never told his family about his heroic acts.

“I didn’t even know he was a war hero,” said his wife of 56 years, Patricia Brown.

The family discovered Mr. Brown’s honorable discharge and award papers only after his death on Thursday. He was 80 years old.

“That’s totally his style. He never would have bragged about that,” said his daughter Tina Lucas.

As a devoted father and husband, he sometimes worked three jobs to ensure that his children, Tina, Elizabeth, Thomas and Peter, had what they needed, his wife said. “He really loved his family.”

Mr. Brown also took special pride in his signature look – a handlebar mustache. Each day, he took great care in waxing his mustache into its upward curls, said his daughter Elizabeth Brown.

“Many people who knew him, even if they didn’t know his name, if you said ‘The man with the handlebar mustache,’ they knew exactly who you were talking about,” she said.

Mr. Brown spent much of his career as a mechanic, and could fix anything. In addition to doing all the repairs on his children’s cars, he could create many things from what would normally be considered trash, Lucas said.

“He could take something and make it useful. He was really an ultimate recycler,” she said.

He would take pieces of scrap wood and make a planter or design a winter shelter for the outdoor shrubbery. “He was always busy and loved to putter,” his daughter said.

Lucas said she inherited her father’s skills. Much like Mr. Brown, she finds herself applying what she knows to figure out how things work.

“It’s that do-it-yourself kind of behavior my dad modeled for me,” she said, adding that she and her siblings have learned how to work hard and be independent because Mr. Brown was a role model.

His children remember all the fishing and hunting trips they took over the years. They considered Mr. Brown the quintessential outdoorsman.

“He just loved to be outside,” Lucas said.

Even if it was getting outdoors just to mow the lawn, Mr. Brown enjoyed it and made it fun for his grandchildren as well.

Elizabeth Brown said he would hook a wagon to his “famous riding lawn mower” to tow his grandchildren around.

“He was always trying to think of things that he could do with them,” she said, even building a makeshift waterslide for them one summer.

During the summers when his children were young, they would go camping. His daughter remembers one trip, when all of a sudden, Mr. Brown put the brakes on, stopping in the middle of a dirt road.

“Can’t you see?” he said to his family when they asked why he was stopping. “I’m stopping for the family of ants crossing the road.”

“We were all little and we thought that was very funny,” his daughter said.

 

Staff Writer Emma Bouthillette can be contacted at 791-6325 or at: [email protected]