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Family, community mourn Brown's Orchards owner Dave Brown
Dave Brown, president of Brown's Orchards, talks about the farm's need for legal immigrant workers.
When Mary Brown thinks of her husband, a tidal wave of memories flood her mind. How he loved watching his sons excel in youth sports, the nights their home was permeated with the jubilant notes of a symphony as he played his trumpet along with their kids, and above all, his mile-wide smile and gregarious personality that propelled people in the community to him.
"He was my best friend," she said.
A sudden, unexpected death: Dave Brown, 53, the third-generation owner of Brown's Orchards and Farm Markets in Loganville, died of a massive heart attack Thursday evening, March 1.
The business announced his death on Facebook Friday morning.
"The foundation at Brown's has been rocked yet again. It is with shock and sadness that we share the news that 3rd Generation Owner, Dave Brown, died from a massive heart attack last evening. He was 53. Our hearts go out to his wife Mary and their two sons, as well as Dave's sister Linda. The impact Dave had on Brown's day to day operations was huge. We ask for your patience and understanding as we all work through this time of great loss."
York County legacy: Dave Brown was the son of the late Stan Brown, longtime owner of Brown's Orchards, and his wife, Nona.
Stan Brown had inherited the orchard from his parents, Earl and Margaret Brown, who began the market in 1948. Over the decades, the market quickly evolved from a simple roadside stand into a fully fledged tourist destination including a bakery, cafe and greenhouse.
After Stan Brown's death in August 2017 following a long battle with cancer, Dave Brown took over the operations. Nona Brown died Jan. 6.
Owner Stanley Brown looks back at the history and growth of his business.
Venturing away and coming home: A Dallastown Area High School graduate, Dave Brown attended Indiana University of Pennsylvania to study computer information systems and held several jobs in the tech industry.
However, in 2006, after the death of his brother, Scott Brown, he returned home to help his parents on the farm. According to Mary Brown, Dave's decision to move home was automatic, as he had always enjoyed a close relationship with his parents.
Until his father died, he assisted in the background but was always the rock his parents could depend on.
"He was always there," Mary said.
A family and community man: Dave Brown's dedication extended from the strong bonds he shared with his family of origin to the new family he began with his wife and, later, into the York community as a whole.
Dave was employed in Chicago the day Mary met him on Randolph Street in 2002, and it was the beginning of a loving partnership that led to their marriage in 2004 and the birth of two sons, Scott and Sean.
When the family returned to Loganville in 2006, Dave continued to "always be there," not only for his parents, but his children as well, Mary said.
Dave never missed his son's sporting events, she said, and he was particularly enthusiastic about their forays into the world of music, as he was an avid lover of the arts. During his time at IUP, he had played the trumpet in the marching band, and he especially enjoyed participating as his children played their respective instruments.
"He was such a good dad. A good father, a great guy," she said.
Shattered dreams: Linda Krupa, Dave's sister, had been planning to return to Loganville with her husband, much as her brother did years ago, to become a part of the team at Brown's.
"I'm heartsick to have lost another incredible brother," she said.
"We were both so excited to have the opportunity to work together, living out our folks' dreams," she said.
However, she remains grateful for the community she is returning to as she mourns the loss of her brother.
"We are touched by the outpouring of love and concern for our family," she said.
A life well-lived: By Saturday afternoon, more than 3,000 people had reacted to the Facebook post announcing Dave's death, with hundreds of comments from community members expressing their shock and sadness at the sudden loss of someone many had considered a friend.
Everyone loved Dave, Mary said, because he was warm and gregarious, and he was good to people while never expecting anything in return.
"He was just always giving. He was a community person. He really liked people," she said.
The morning after his death, she told the story a visit from her son's piano teacher and family friend, who comforted her with words that have become her anchor during a time of confusion and heartbreak.
"She said, 'You got a good one. You might not have had him long, but he was a good one. One of the best,'" she said.
Through her tears, Mary Brown couldn't help but agree.
"He did so much good with the time he had," she said.
"He was something special. He was worth the wait."