HomeHaddonfield News'Don't just be a name on the committee'

‘Don’t just be a name on the committee’

Borough resident Bill Brown will be honored for decades of volunteerism

Special to The Sun
Bill Brown has been a borough resident for 56 years. His years of service will be celebrated at the annual town dinner.

If you’ve been around Haddonfield, chances are you’ve seen or been involved with resident Bill Brown.

From co-founding the Haddonfield Soccer League and the Haddonfield Youth Tennis Program to bringing the borough’s town criers to life, the 91-year-old has been an active volunteer for most of his years.

- Advertisement -

To honor that, the Haddonfield Civic Association will present Brown with its Alfred E. Driscoll Community Service Award on Wednesday, April 17. The award will be presented at the annual town dinner that has also benefited from Brown’s service. Three Haddonfield Memorial High School scholarship recipients will also be cited.

Brown has been a borough resident for 56 years. He was the founding director of Mabel Kay House, founder and director of the Haddonfield Japan Exchange and organizer of the Haddonfield Pig Tail League. He has also served as president of the Haddonfield Lions Club, the tennis program and the Central School Haddonfield Alumni Society.

Brown recalled that his volunteerism began when his then 8-year-old son joined the T-shirt baseball league.

When I was a kid growing up in Philly, we didn’t have any little league or organized teams to play for, and we were just talking among ourselves,” Brown remembered. “We had baseballs and bats wrapped up in masking tape with a crack in one end and a nail at the other.

When his son’s baseball manager was 30 minutes late for the team’s first game, Brown stood with about 20 eight-year-olds and their parents and decided to take the lead.

“I grabbed a bat and a ball and said, ‘You take first, you take second,’ and just started hitting the ball to them and giving them some activities,” Brown recounted.

When the manager finally arrived, he asked Brown to officially coach the team. After thinking about it, Brown agreed – and stayed for nine years.

Brown is also proud of raising enough funds for a fence around the outfield where the T-shirt league team played, charging local businesses and real-estate organizations to advertise on the new enclosure.

His advice to young people interested in volunteering: “Don’t just be a name on the committee.”

“Get involved and actually take on responsibility,” Brown urged. “Even if people tell you, ‘We tried that before and it didn’t work,’ if you think it can work, try it and be persistent.”

When he first suggested the idea of town criers in Haddonfield, some residents dressed in Colonial attire for three meetings, but got no response.

“Then finally, (Joe Murphy and I) were sitting outside of the Indian King Tavern at some event,” Brown noted of his talk with the tavern’s owner, “and he said, ‘Bill, I like your idea of the town criers. Why don’t you go ahead and do it?'”

Their talk resulted in a local newspaper ad that, in turn, led to a local town crier, and the tradition remains iconic, with criers present at major events like the Skirmish and the Mayor’s Breakfast.

Brown was named Haddonfield Citizen of the Year in 1997 and has been the recipient of the Community Service Award from the Chapel of the Four Chaplains. He is also an honorary international citizen of Omiya, Japan.

Brown has been a blood donor since he was 17, when a friend’s aunt needed a donation. In 74 years, he has donated more than 26 gallons to the American Red Cross.

“I enjoyed all of them, really,” Brown noted of his volunteer past. “It seems kind of strange receiving an award for doing things I enjoy doing.”


Stay Connected

- Advertisment -

Current Issue