Job loss opened door to politics for Brown

Dave Brown and his wife Deborah, and their children Grace 13, and Amanda, 14.

Princeton Union-Eagle

Dave Brown moved from city to city and job to job in his youth.

Brown, 51, the first-term Republican senator, challenged by Sally Knox, now lives in a split-level home in the city of Becker in Sherburne County with wife Deborah and adopted children – Grace, 13, and Amanda, 14.

Brown enjoys reading political biographies and collecting decks of cards (he estimates he has 200-300 decks) illustrated with historical scenes. The first deck he collected has an illustration of Woolaroc, once the personal ranch retreat of Phillips Petroleum co-founder Frank Phillips, near Bartlesville, Okla., which now is a tourist destination.

Brown called the Harry Truman biography one of his favorite reads. “I feel like I can relate to the guy,” Brown said. “There were forces beyond his control in terms of his becoming vice president.”

The Browns attend the Evangelical Free Church in Becker and Deborah operates Faith Walk Ministries.

Brown was born in Mt. Auburn, Iowa, pop. about 200, where his dad owned and operated a lumber business, and also did carpentry which young Dave sometimes helped with. His dad sold the lumber business when Brown was about 10 or 11 and moved the family to a seven-acre country place at LaPorte City, near Waterloo, so his dad could take a job in the John Deere factory there. The family kept a few livestock at their place.

Brown played seventh grade football and later tennis for a year in high school, recalling not being a good athlete. His dad, he said, had the “old mentality that if you are not in school, you should be working.”

One of his jobs during high school was detasseling corn over a 10-day period each of five summers, Brown calls detasseling a “miserable” job. He also washed pots and pans at a bakery in La Porte for a time in high school and then began working at Sambo’s Restaurant in Waterloo, first as a dishwasher and then as a cook. He finished his senior year a semester early and kept working at Sambo’s into the beginning of the summer.

His next job was constructing steel grain bins all over Iowa. He had to take turns as a crew member, standing inside the metal grain bin, holding a nut in place for the bolt shoved through from the outside. It would get to be 100 degrees inside the steel shell and there was little air circulation, he said.

What those jobs taught him, he said, was that he had better get educated and find something better. He enrolled in Oklahoma Wesleyan University at Bartlesville, Okla., and did lawn care during three summers there.

After earning a BA degree in behavioral science, he set out to attend law school at Drake University in Des Moines. But he quit shortly after when he was given an assignment to read a book by the next day. He was staying at Grandmother Florence’s place for that short time in the area.

For the full story and complete election coverage, see the Thursday, Oct. 25 print edition of the Times.