More than four decades of agricultural excellence and public service earned the 1980 Eminent Farmer award for Paul E. Brown of rural Arlington, South Dakota.
Brown, a 1935 graduate in animal science from South Dakota State University, has distinguished himself not only as a master farmer, but also in a public service career which included 20 years of effort for the State of South Dakota. He served for ten years in the South Dakota House of Representatives, reaching the high office of Speaker of the House for his last two sessions. He served on the Executive Board of the Legislative Research Council, and he chaired the committee to recodify school laws in 1963-64.
Although he had intended to quit state service following those years, he readily accepted yet another assignment when then-Governor Nils Boe asked him to serve on the State Fair Board.
At that point, he accepted still another responsibility as he ran for the State Senate.
During all this, Brown’s agricultural career also moved ahead. Beginning in 1937 in partnership with his father, the operation became “Brown Brothers” in 1963. The joint efforts of Paul Brown and his brother, Howard, resulted in one of the most diversified area farming operations.
The partnership operates on about 1360 acres including wheat, oats, corn and alfalfa with a cow-calf herd from which calves are fed and marketed as fat cattle. Besides that, a total of some 11,000 other animals also inhabit the place. More than 10,000 of these are mink, and the Browns operate one of the largest fur-producing enterprises in the area.
Despite the death of the brother, the partnership continues. Howard’s two sons assumed responsibility for a share of the farming and fur work, allowing Paul Brown some time for his continuing public service projects and an occasional vacation with his wife of 44 years, Lillian.
Although semi-retired, Brown remains active in more than a dozen civic, fraternal, wildlife, and agricultural organizations, including membership on the SDSU President’s Advisory Council, the Brookings Hospital Board, the Heritage Museum Board, and the Brookings Area Guidance Center Board. In 1974, he received the SDSU Distinguished Alumnus Award.
The Brown’s daughters Joyce, Virginia, and Esther all are married and living on their own farms in eastern South Dakota.