More detail on this person: "Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth...put out my hand and touched the face of God."* Ricky C. Brown (Rick) passed away at Duke University Hospital on Tuesday, May 12 with his wife, Deborah (Deb) at his side. He was born in Roxboro, NC. For more than 29 years, Rick lived with Deb in Angier, NC on a pond, which they considered their retreat place. After graduating from Frank L. Ashley High School in Gastonia, NC, he enrolled at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Two years later, he entered the US Army and became a helicopter pilot. He was a combat pilot and Chief Warrant Officer in Vietnam from 1970-1971, earning a Bronze Star Medal and numerous Air Medals. Rick returned to UNC-Chapel Hill after serving in Vietnam and completed his undergraduate degree in psychology while flying helicopters with the NC National Guard on weekends. His education also included a Master's degree from the University of Mississippi in Clinical Psychology and a clinical psychology internship at Wilford Hall, Lackland AFB in San Antonio, TX. Rick retired from the military as a Captain in the Air Force Reserves. His professional career included Chief of Mental Health at Seymour Johnson AFB and director of the psychology department at Cherry Hospital in Goldsboro, NC, during which he was awarded Psychologist of the Year. Rick also had a part-time private practice at a local mental health clinic. Loving travel, he taught psychology classes part-time to sailors on US Navy ships which took him around the world. Later on, he was a teacher at Harnett County schools before he retired. Military service and support were important to Rick. His involvement with his veteran brothers at the Raleigh Vet Center and Raleigh VA were bright spots in his life during the past few years. He served on the Durham VA Mental Health Council to help veterans navigate the VA health system and participated on the veteran panel at the Durham VA's Community Mental Health Summit. Rick was a member of the Vietnam Helicopter Pilot Association, Disabled American Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and USO. Throughout his life, Rick had an artist's soul with a passion for Art Deco and handblown glass. He never hesitated to surround himself with various forms of art and enjoyed going to the Asheville annual crafts guild show, art museums and galleries representing local artists. Rick's love for the NC Mountains started early in life, as he grew up in the Linville Falls area and later lived in West Jefferson while attending Appalachian State University. Whitewater rafting, hiking and driving the Blue Ridge Parkway were among his fondest mountain memories, especially the 360 view from Craggy Pinnacle where he and Deb were married. An animal lover, Rick often brought home rescues and considered himself lucky to share his life with every dog and cat he ever "owned." He loved watching movies and the original Blade Runner was his favorite. Rick also was an avid reader, keeping up with politics and world affairs and was a go-to person for recommendations on good books. A stiff contender at Words with Friends, he always gave amateur players a little slack to stay in the game. An aspiring writer, he occasionally wrote poetry and was an ongoing collector of inspiring quotes and messages. Finally, Rick always said he would like to be remembered as having a kind, tender heart and a good sense of humor. His family and friends know without a doubt that this mission was absolutely accomplished. Rick is survived by his wife, Deborah Parker; brother-in-laws, Chris Parker (Teresa) and Bobby Parker; nephews, Clark Bowen and Scott Bowen; niece, Gayla Bowen and longtime cat friend, Peridot. He was preceded in death by his mother, Lucille McNair; father, Ollie Clyde Brown and brothers, James Bowen and Gene Bowen. Rick's family is very grateful to Dr. Rebecca Crouch and the Campbell University physical therapy program for the pro bono pulmonary physical therapy he received there and the opportunity for him to speak and work with the students as part of their training. The family would also like to thank the medical staff at Duke University Hospital and the Durham/Fayetteville VA for their dedicated care and kindness, especially during his last days at Duke. There will be a celebration of Rick's life at a later date. In time, his ashes will be interred at Arlington National Cemetery. Those wishing to make memorial gifts are encouraged to make donations to the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation, www.pulmonaryfibrosis.org or Military Missions in Action, www.militarymissionsinaction.org *Quote from John Gillespie Magee's "High Flight"
Burial information: Arlingrton National Cemetery
This information was last updated 05/18/2020
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Date posted on this site: 12/27/2020
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