mayor-sam-brown_web.jpgLAUDERDALE LAKES — Samuel S. Brown, the first popularly elected black mayor in Broward County, has died. The former Lauderdale Lakes mayor was 87.

On Saturday, February 13, after complaining of chest pains, Brown was transported to Florida Medical Center, where he died. The cause of death is undetermined.
Services are scheduled for Friday, Feb. 19 at 11 a.m. at Merrell United Methodist Church, 3900 N State Road 7 in Lauderdale Lakes. A repast will follow at the Lauderdale Lakes Multi-Purpose Facility, 4340 NW 36th Street.

Brown served as mayor of Lauderdale Lakes from 1998 to 2008, when he decided not to seek re-election.

Born June 22, 1922 in St. Mary, Jamaica, Brown migrated to New York in the early 1950s. There, he did double duty as a graphic designer and elementary school teacher.

Brown’s ascent into politics began after he and his late wife, Minnette, made Lauderdale Lakes their permanent home in 1982. He became heavily involved in the homeowners association before, along with others, he formed a community crime watch.

Lauderdale Lakes Commissioner David Shomers, who said he has been friends with Brown for 20 years, described Brown as a frugal man who scrutinized the city’s expense reports to ensure employees were not spending taxpayers’ money foolishly.

“Sam was a quiet, deliberative individual who shied away from hostile argument,” Shomers said. “He always attempted to run the city with a smooth demeanor, and insisted on the same from the ladies and gentlemen on the city commission.”

During his 10-year tenure, Brown became a stalwart in the community with many civic, charitable and philanthropic efforts. He was instrumental in numerous projects, such as the new, $6.2 million, 20,000-square-foot library and cultural center currently under construction that are a part of the city’s re-development plans.

“We are deeply saddened at Mayor Brown’s passing, as he served as both a mentor and friend to myself and many of the elected officials in Lauderdale Lakes—both current and those who have gone before us,” said Lauderdale Lakes Mayor Barrington A. Russell Sr., who succeeded Brown in 2008. “His legacy speaks to his dedication and commitment to the city and the residents that he served. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and loved ones during this difficult time.”

Brown, a staunch education activist, was most proud of the city’s Samuel S. Brown Scholarship Fund, which provides educational financial assistance to deserving high school and college students who live in the city, according to Stuart.

“Growing up, what was ingrained in us was to get a solid education. So, it was important to him that others were afforded the opportunity to get an education,” said his daughter, Michelle Stuart. “That was dear to his heart.”

His notable fervor for community service led him to oust the 18-year veteran mayor, Alfonso Gereffi, in 1998, to become Lauderdale Lakes’ fifth mayor.  Brown remained the incumbent until his failing health caused him to make the difficult decision not to seek re-election in 2008.

“He loved the city, and he did not want to give up on the city by not running again. But, he was getting weak at that time,” Stuart said. “So, it really was a tough decision for him.”

Long after his 10-year tenure in public office was officially over, and despite his wife’s death in October 2008 along with several hospital stays, Brown continued to participate in some of the city’s community initiatives, which he held in high priority.  Last year, he spearheaded the city’s Annual Thanksgiving Food Drive to distribute food baskets to needy families, as he has done for the last six years.

In addition to Stuart, Brown is survived by daughters Grace Reid of Palmetto Bay; Blossom Brown of New York; son Alexander Brown of Texas; 5 grandchildren, 4 great-grandchildren and a host of loving friends.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that monetary donations be made to the Samuel S. Brown Scholarship Fund at the City of Lauderdale Lakes, 4300 NW 36th Street, Lauderdale Lakes, FL 33319.

Photo: Samuel Brown