Vail Daily obituary: Keith L. Brown, 1925-2016
Keith Brown always said “being an Eagle Scout is what made me the man I am today.” When Keith died on July 29, 2016, his life was full and his accomplishments many. He would also say that the love of his life was Carol Liebmann Brown, who he was married to for 65 years and who predeceased him in 2015.
Following Northwestern University and University of Texas Law School, a career in law opened the doors to philanthropy, politics, diplomacy, investments, real estate, oil/gas and orange groves. His official title was Ambassador Keith L. Brown following appointments by both presidents Reagan and Bush to the countries of Lesotho (1982-83) and Denmark (1989-1992). Mr. Brown also served as the Republican National Finance chairman under President Reagan from 1984 to 1988.
In 1959, Keith and his business partners made the decision to invest personal funds in an upstart ski area in Colorado to eventually be called Vail. Keith and Carol built the second home in the Vail Valley believing that investing in a small ski area would be fun for the family. Keith, along with his partners, raised money and built infrastructure to start the community of Vail. When asked by a persistent Denver Post writer what his title was at Vail Associates, he humbly said, “Well, right now I’m putting in the sewer system, so I guess you could call me the head turd.”
Keith was known for his quick humor and his ability to tell a joke. His grandchildren loved to gather round just to listen and be entertained by his subtle humor and instant wit. Keith and Carol enjoyed traveling, skiing, golf, hunting, fishing and always the requisite good party. Their homes were constantly filled with a gathering of friends, laughter and song.
In addition to his ambassadorships, Keith was chair emeritus of the Council of American Ambassadors and was president from 1999-2004. He was chairman of Brown Investments Corp., a member of the Texas, Oklahoma and Colorado bar associations, a founder and original partner of Vail Associates, a director of the Public Service Company of Colorado, Colorado State Bank & Trust, the San Francisco Real Estate Trust, Pioneer Airways, Griffith Realty Inc., the National Western Stock Show Association, the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Boys and Girls Clubs of America Inc. He served as a trustee and past president of the board of the Colorado Academy and was chairman of the International Institute of Education/World Affairs Council in Denver.
He belonged to several social clubs including the San Antonio Country Club, the Denver Country Club, Eagle Springs Golf Club, Castle Pines, Eldorado Country Club and the Bohemian Club.
Surviving Keith are his three children, Susan Brown Milhoan, of Vail, Linda Brown, of Mexico, and Ben (Kathy) Brown, of Denver. A son Briggs predeceased Keith and Carol in 1981. Keith is also survived by seven grandchildren, Walker (Whitney), Prent (Leah), and Trey (Gaby) Milhoan, Briggs Brown, Kate and Emily Rundles, Carolita Landers and six great-grandchildren.
A celebration of life for Ambassador Brown is scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 24, at 4 p.m. at the San Antonio Country Club. A separate memorial service will be held in Colorado at the Vail Interfaith Chapel at 2 p.m. on Sept. 23.
Donations to the memory of Ambassador Brown, in lieu of flowers, will be gratefully accepted by the Council of American Ambassadors fostering young leaders in international affairs and diplomacy, or the Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Depression Center in Denver, or the Challenge Foundation, also in Denver, or the entity of your choice.
You are invited to sign the guestbook at http://www.porterloring.com. Arrangements with Porter Loring, 1101 McCullough Ave., San Antonio, Texas, 210-227-8221.