By Marsha M. Brown
To the faithful readers of GIG LINE…you know how much I love my ‘sweetie pie’ Billy. Our falling in love was no mistake…and as Billy says often, “It was meant to be”. And all I know for sure is that God blessed me with an unexpected courtship and marriage to my hero and my inspiration, William S. ‘Billy’ Brown, Jr. Week after week you hear me brag about him…but only because he deserves it. What you don’t see or hear is all the things he does to show how much he loves you too.
In the last couple of weeks a special event was organized to show the love and support our communities feel for Billy after hearing his recent diagnosis of an inoperable brain tumor. The tumor is located between both sides of his brain and is not able to be removed. Only the good Lord truly knows how long we’ll have to love on each other and maybe…just maybe…something miraculous will happen but whatever God has in store for us…we are embracing each day as if it were our last…but then…we’ve always done that in our marriage following through with my Mama’s rule of thumb…”Don’t ever go to bed mad…life is too short…love each other with all of your heart and if you’re ever upset before bedtime…make up and kiss each other good night”. Mama’s words have stuck through all these years…like so many of the other wise things she taught me and my sister and I’m so glad I listened.
When it was confirmed that folks we love were planning the benefit pork picnic for Saturday, March 26th – 1:00 PM Manteo First Assembly Youth House across from Manteo Hotline Thrift Store), I was so thankful and so happy. To me, the event represented a chance for everybody to come, hug and love on Billy…but for Billy…he was thankful and happy because he saw it as an opportunity to help veterans. He’s all about veterans. He’s proud that he served our country in the U. S. Army and that he’s a Vietnam veteran and he wants to take this special opportunity for all veterans to come together in one place and to talk…and laugh and cry probably too. He said, “Marsha, I hope veterans come and if they’re Dare County veterans who don’t already have their Veteran I. D. Card, they can bring their DD-214 so we can issue theirs while they’re there”. So friends, please keep that in mind even if you’ve already gotten your I. D. Card, to tell your veteran friends, neighbors and co-workers so they can come and get their too. As most of you know, there is no charge for the ‘Card’ and when a vet shows one of our Veterans Advisory Council members their DD-214 showing ‘Honorable Discharge’, they’ll be issued a means to save money at nearly 60 Dare County/Outer Banks businesses. Also, Billy said, “And I want us to bring our boxes of the Federal V.A. Benefit booklets and the NC4Vets Resource Guide magazines to give them too”. He wants fellow vets to get some help…to make an appointment to go see Rhonda Creef, Dare County Veteran Service Officer (252) 475-5604 to determine eligibility.
During Billy’s many years of service to Dare County, he began as a Deputy Sheriff also becoming the first EMS Director appointed by Sheriff Frank Cahoon and our County Commissioners; he also worked with Public Works and started at entry level at the RWS Joseph “Mac” Midgett Water Plant, excelling into the position of Superintendent where his hard work and determination (along with his staff) to provide the best drinking water came to pass literally with several statewide wins for the “Best Tasting Drinking Water” in North Carolina and then after he accepted a request to transfer and supervise the much older water plant in Skyco, he went on to again win the same contest there twice. After retiring from Dare County Water, he worked part time as a driver for Dare Transportation. Over the years Billy has taught EMT classes, delivered four (4) Dare County babies and mentored many current and retired employees who stay in touch with him on a regular basis. Billy loves Dare County and the families who live here. His appointment by the Dare County Board of Commissioners to the Dare County Veterans Advisory Council and his membership with the Outer Banks V.F.W. Post 10950 and the American Legion Post 26 has given Billy the opportunity to offer his fellow veterans much needed and deserved support. He is proud for having been the Dare County Employee of the Month and Dare County Employee of the Year awards joining the elite group of Dare County’s best of best. Billy has loved people in all walks of life and has played the role of ‘second Dad’, brother, friend and mentor for countless people who love him dearly. He has served as a Volunteer Fireman and he fully supported my real estate career helping everyone during hurricanes and floods. Several years Billy played the role as Santa Claus for school events and it goes on and on…
The kindness of my cousin Edward Lee Mann (252) 473-0134, our daughter Bonnie Brown Rowe (252) 216-8586 and veteran Kelli Harmon (910) 286-1660 was initially to celebrate Billy and of course we will…but when first hearing about it…Billy saw it as a blessing because he wants to bring veterans together and celebrate each other…the men and women who have given and sacrificed so much for all of us…typical for my ‘sweetie pie’ and hopefully help them in some way.
A man of honor with a great big heart for his ‘brothers and sisters’ who makes it clear to you (if given the chance) that as long as he lives, he will strive to reach out to veterans, encourage them to investigate potential health care and/or V.A. benefits and not to feel guilty for doing so. Through our work on behalf of veterans, we’ve realized that far too many deserving veterans simply don’t know what they might be entitled to or qualify for. He came home from Vietnam in March 1968 and it wasn’t until the early fall of 2011 that he even heard about an ‘Agent Orange Screening’ thanks to fellow veterans Clarence Skinner and Clarence Lewis. Since that time, Billy has been non stop, especially to Vietnam vets to seek information about whether their illnesses or medical conditions are related to their exposure to Agent Orange or (AO).
Yes, it is an event that will be of great help to Billy and I and we are so grateful but it’s a chance to share more than food…it’s an opportunity to share each other. If you would like more information or would like to help in some way, please contact Edward Lee, Bonnie or Kelli and between now and then, we’d love to see you and spend time with you. If you can’t join us, just know how much we thank you and that your calls, cards, emails, texts’ and visits to our home have touched my ‘sweetie pie’ Billy and I very deeply.
Love…they say, “makes the world go round”, “turns a frown upside down”, “puts a smile on your face” and “a song in your heart”. I don’t know who first said that…but it’s the truth…maybe it was Mama. Your prayers (and even your songs Laverna have helped us get through scary and tough days and nights sometimes with endless tears. We love you all and can’t thank you all adequately or enough for all that you’ve done at this point in our journey. Know that our family, our communities, our churches, our neighbors and our friends are just a sample of what God has in store for us later. That my friends is a given.
Until next time, we await the next step. Be happy, be safe and be proud. We have courageous men and women like Billy and all of you who have or currently serve our nation to protect and defend us. Hug each other. Love and or forgive your spouse. Tell your kids that life is precious…more than once. And never go to bed mad at each other. Thank you again for all that you do. We’re feeling your prayers and your love each and every day. God bless you and stay tuned.