In Memoriam: Hugh Brown

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Posted: September 12, 2012

Hugh Brown

Hugh Brown, who joined the Accelerator Department on May 14, 1956, as an assistant physicist, and retired as a senior physicist with tenure on November 30, 1996, died at 83 on August 25, 2012. Internationally recognized as an authority on particle beam optics, he and colleagues designed beams at the Alternating Gradient Synchrotron for three experiments that earned Nobel Prizes. After retirement, he remained a guest scientist until September 30, 2001.

The following obituary is provided by Elise Brown.

Hugh Needham Brown, 83, of Brookhaven, NY died at his residence on August 25, 2012. He was born September 12, 1928, in Champaign, IL, to Carrie Needham and Hugh Alexander Brown. He grew up in Urbana, IL and attended the University of Illinois, where he earned a B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in physics. He was drafted into the US Army in 1954 and served two years at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds, MD, where he taught Physical Science to officers and studied shock waves.

In 1956, Hugh accepted a position in high energy physics at the Alternating Gradient Synchrotron, at Brookhaven National Laboratory, and worked there until his retirement in 1996. During his fifty years at the Lab, he became internationally recognized as an authority on particle beam optics and the design of particle beam lines. The AGS beams that he designed with his colleagues were instrumental in earning 3 Nobel Prizes by AGS experiments. He and his family lived abroad on two scientific exchanges, one in Moscow for six months in 1965, and one for a year in France in 1973.

He married Virginia Vaughan Hulse, of New London, CT in 1959. They had two children, Hugh Alexander and Elise Sheila. Virginia was the daughter of Robert V. Hulse and Sheila McLean, also of New London.

He treasured his home and community in Brookhaven and enjoyed many excursions sailing in Bellport Bay and visiting Old Inlet Beach on Fire Island. A committed stargazer, Hugh was always happy to set up his telescope to show family and friends the moon and stars. He most enjoyed spending time with his children and grandchildren, as well as his sisters and their families. He was a kind and gentle man with a dry wit and was an exemplary father, grandfather, brother, and husband.

A resident of the hamlet for fifty years, Hugh was a familiar face to many on his daily walks. He had served on the Board of the Brookhaven Village Association, was a longtime supporter of the Post-Morrow Foundation, and had recently joined the Advisory Council of Carmans River Maritime Center.

Hugh was predeceased by his wife in 1992. He will live on in the hearts of his three sisters and their families, Jane Myers, of Glendale, WI, Isabel Harshbarger, of Urbana, IL, and Emily Clemons, of Mill Valley, CA; his two children, H. Alex Brown, of Waban, MA and Elise Brown of Liberty, ME; their spouses, Karen Weisgerber and Martha Piscuskas; his four grandchildren, Emma & Cate Brown, of Waban, MA and Rose Piscuskas and Seth Brown, of Liberty, ME.

Hugh Brown was buried beside his wife at Woodland Cemetery in Bellport, NY. A celebration of his life will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, September 22, at the Parish Hall of St. James Episcopal Church, 260 Beaver Dam Rd., in Brookhaven, NY.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Virginia Brown Scholarship Fund of the Brookhaven Village Association, PO Box 167, Brookhaven, NY 11719 or Partners in Health, 888 Commonwealth Avenue, 3rd Fl, Boston, MA 02215.

Last Modified: September 12, 2012