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‘He was very warm and friendly’

Veronica Whitney
Special to the DailyEdwards residents Keith and Carol Brown joined dozens of other world diplomats to meet Pope John Paul II at the residence of the Vatican ambassador to Denmark on June 7, 1989.
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EDWARDS – Former U.S. Ambassador Keith Brown remembered Thursday Pope John Paul II as a warm and genuine person.Though he and his wife, Carol, spent only five minutes with the pope, whose funeral is today in Vatican City, Brown can’t forget the impression the pope made on him when he met him in 1989 in Denmark.

Brown, 79, one of the founders of Vail and a resident of Edwards, was the U.S. ambassador to Denmark when he joined dozens of other world diplomats to meet the pope at the residence of the Vatican ambassador June 7, 1989.

“He was very warm and down to earth. He wasn’t pompous in any way,” Brown said. “He looked you right in the eye and talked to you. He smiled, he was very pleasant. He wanted to know about you.”Brown, who was also an ambassador to Lesotho in southern Africa under the presidency of George H.W. Bush, said he was very impressed and honored when he met Pope John Paul.”Sometimes you meet heads of state who have their own agenda and want perhaps to impress you,” Brown said. “The pope made no effort to be impressive. He was genuine, he was interested in talking to people. He spoke warmly to all people, including the North Koreans who were standing next to me.”Another thing that caught Brown’s attention during his meeting was that the pope walked around talking to people instead of the people standing in line to greet him.

“Normally, when you go into a reception, the host would stand in one place and you would file past him,” Brown said. “(The pope) told us he had just been with George H.W. Bush and he had an interesting session with him and he said (Bush) was an outstanding person. He was very laudatory of the president.”Brown also said he was impressed the pope visited Denmark, a Lutheran country with a small Catholic population.”He was trying to be open to every country and everybody,” he added. “He was very supportive of young people. He visited countries he didn’t agree with. He was willing to be open and talk to people with other points of view.”

Staff Writer Veronica Whitney can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 454 or vwhitney@vaildaily.com. Vail, Colorado


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