Obituaries & Tributes

Immediate Need

Prearrange Your Funeral

Contact Us

Site Search


Text Sizing

The Memorial Candle Program has been designed to help offset the costs associated with the hosting this Tribute Website in perpetuity. Through the lighting of a memorial candle, your thoughtful gesture will be recorded in the Book of Memories and the proceeds will go directly towards helping ensure that the family and friends of David Brown can continue to memorialize, re-visit, interact with each other and enhance this tribute for future generations.

Thank you.

Select Candle

Obituary for David Brown

David Brown
In lieu of flower the family prefers memorials.

David Andrew Brown (DAB) was born September 22, 1939 on the family farm south of Gruver, Iowa to Wallace and Zelma (Ditsworth) Brown. He grew up on the farm that was homesteaded in 1882 by his grandfather Andrew Malcolm Brown. In these early years, he learned his hard work ethic and how to stretch a dollar while his parents scrimped and saved to buy the farm. As David once wrote, “There were no trips, no frills, no new clothes, and unless we pulled button weeds, no going to movies in Estherville. Those 10 years of not having anything you wanted and working for neighbors to get the necessary things really shaped my character.”
He graduated from Gruver High School in 1957. He worked various jobs to put himself through college and held degrees from Estherville Junior College (AA 1959), University of Northern Iowa (BA 1964), and University of Northern Colorado (MA 1967). He started teaching at the young age of 19 and after three years of teaching in Burt, IA, he went to the University of South Dakota and had the opportunity to play football. Realizing he was a gifted leader, his coaches encouraged him to continue his pursuit of a coaching and teaching career. After finishing his bachelor’s degree at the University of Northern Iowa, he started teaching at Lincoln Central school in Gruver, IA in 1963.
He married Shirley Jean Laffey on September 3, 1966 at the Little Brown Church in Nashua, Iowa. David and Shirley spent 51 wonderful years together. He had a great love for his family. His pride and joy were his kids Chuck, Andrew, and Heather, as well as his grandchildren. David and Shirley’s early years together included Shirley finishing her teaching degree, traveling/tenting through 11 countries in Europe, and clearing and building a cabin in the northwoods of Minnesota. In 1969, they moved to Spencer, IA and both began teaching in the Spencer Community Schools. During his 32 years teaching in Spencer (teaching American History most of the time), David challenged students to do their best and many former students remember him as a mentor and a positive influence in their lives. While at Spencer, he also coached football, cross country, and track. His many successful years in coaching led to his induction into the Iowa Track Coaches Hall of Fame in 1993. He retired from teaching and coaching in 2001 or as David liked to put it, “his plane landed.”
David had various interests including farming, budgeting, sports, gardening, talking politics, listening to country and gospel music, and a hard days work. He and Shirley enjoyed spending time together at their cabin on Woman Lake (Northern Minnesota) where they entertained many relatives and friends over the years. David spent quiet times at the cabin reading on the deck and taking Shirley on fishing excursions (although he did not like being on the water particularly). David was a member of Longville Community Church in Longville, MN and attended Crossroads Church and First Presbyterian Church in Estherville, IA.
David died unexpectedly in Estherville, IA on January 5, 2018 at the age of 78.
David is survived by his wife, Shirley of Estherville, IA; his children, Chuck (Carrie) Brown of Simi Valley, CA, Andrew (Natalie) Brown of Gruver, IA, and Heather (Paul) Nelson of Spencer, IA; his grandchildren, Raymond Brown, Jake Brown, Keegan Brown, Liam Brown, Cameron Nelson, Harper Nelson, and another on the way; his sister, Kathleen Hewitt of Shakopee, MN; his sister-in-law, Ruth Brown of Des Moines, IA; and many nieces, nephews, great-nieces, great-nephews, and many dear friends.
He is preceded in death by his parents; his brothers, LeRoy Brown, Russell Brown, and Ronald Brown; and his sister, Rosemarie Williams.
Order Flowers
Recently Shared Condolences
Recently Shared Stories
Recently Shared Photos
Book of Memories
Proudly Serving the Communities of Armstrong, Estherville, Fenton, Graettinger, Ringsted, and Swea City
(712) 362-2646 Henry-Olson Funeral Home and Crematory
401 N. 7th Street
Estherville, IA 51334
712-864-3441 Henry-Olson Funeral Home and Crematory - Armstrong
506 2nd Ave.
Armstrong, IA 50514
515-889-2796 Henry-Olson Funeral Home and Crematory - Fenton

Fenton, IA 50539
712-859-3919 Henry-Olson Funeral Home & Crematory - Graettinger
104 N. Cedar St.
Graettinger, IA 51342
515-272-4242 Henry-Olson Funeral Home & Crematory - Swea City
408 4th Ave. West
Swea City, IA 50590
712-866-1006 Ringsted