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Joe Brown, Community Leader and Activist, Passes Away at 72

By Staff



Joe Brown

Joseph Brown, founder of Jakapabran Consulting Group, an Anthony Jordan Health Foundation board member, local minister and community activist, passed away Thursday, Dec. 10, at the age of 72.

The cause of Brown’s death has not yet been released; however, according to J. K. Langkans, director of Foundation Relations at the Anthony Jordan Health Foundation, Brown told her the morning of his passing he had recently been recovering from food poisoning.

“It started with an email I had sent to the foundation board,” Langkans stated. “Joe hadn’t responded for a couple of days. I called, and we had a conversation for just a couple of minutes. It wasn’t until about 4 p.m. that afternoon, when our corporate board chair sent an email saying that Joe had passed.”

It will be Brown’s irreplaceable commitment to the community, and his big heart, that Langkans said she will most greatly miss.

“Well, definitely the community has lost an advocate, a leader, someone who led by example, and someone that could be depended upon to give really good advice,” she stated. “You know that term, ‘friend of the community?’ That really was Joe. Joe touched a great many lives in this community, working with businesses and individuals. He had an impact on the well-being of both employees and leaders, as well as our foundation work, in particular. Here, at the Jordan Health Foundation, where we raise money for Jordan Health, that is a huge asset, to work with someone who really has a heart for the community. So, it’s quite a blow. That kind of leadership doesn’t come your way all the time. To lose that, for me, it’s like losing five people. That’s the impact. And, I feel the organizations that he’s worked with, all these organizations, are really going to be reeling from this blow.”

Brown had been well-known in the Rochester community, from working as a supporter for various political campaigns, including those of state Sen. Ted O’Brien and Mayor Lovely Warren, to advocating for the community, and working with agencies like the Center for Dispute Settlement, and the Rochester Hillside Family of Agencies.

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Joe Brown, Geena Cruz, and Former Sen. Ted O’Brien

He’d served as a board member for the Center until he passed, and as an agency ombudsman at Hillside until 2014.

“Joe Brown was a great friend, counselor, mentor, and advocate for so many people in Rochester, and Monroe County,” Mayor Warren stated. “He touched more lives, both directly and indirectly, than we could ever count. His passing is a great loss for our city, but his memory, and his legacy, will live on in the hearts and minds of all who knew him.”

Brown had been a staunch political advocate of Warren’s during her primary run in 2013, and throughout her term in office, until he passed.

In addition, he had worked as both an educator and administrator at Harlem High School in the 1970’s, before moving on to become director of Minority Business Development in New York City, and simultaneously held the position of the city’s assistant commissioner of economic development during the 1980s.

Brown then became a consultant at the Rochester Minority Business Development Center in the 1990s, and, following that, manager of Diversity and Inclusion at Eastman Kodak Co., from 2001 to 2004.

In addition, he’d recently served on the Rochester School Modernization Board of directors, as well as the Caring and Sharing Youth Academy board, and the Lewis Street YMCA board of directors.

Brown was also an ordained minister and 20-year member at New Life Ministries Fellowship Church, and had been past president and vice president of the Greater Rochester chapter of the N.A.A.C.P.

JOe3He is survived by his children: Jamal Brown, Kareem Brown, Paul Brown, Angel Carter, and Hunter Brown.

Brown’s memorial will be held Friday, Dec. 18, 6 p.m., at New Life Fellowship Church, 330 Wellington Ave. The funeral will be held at the same location, on Saturday, Dec. 19, at 11 a.m.

The following comments are from community leaders and organization representatives who’d like to pay tribute to Brown’s work in the community:

Former Sen. Ted O’Brien – “Just by way of background, he was a true renaissance man, in that he’d done a little bit of everything. A lot of people don’t know he was drafted out of college by the Dallas Cowboys. It’s a really funny story. The way he tells it, I can hear him laughing. He was at training camp for the Dallas Cowboys. And, he’s in training camp, and he caught the ball. He started running up the field, and a mountain of a man hit him. And, Joe tells me later, he thought, ‘As I was flying through the air, I thought, maybe this wasn’t the career of choice for me.’”

“After that, he went back to his hometown in Harlem, and he became a principal in Harlem. Then, Mayor Ed Koch hired him to do economic development in the 42nd street area of Manhattan. Cleaning up 42nd street was really one of the crowning achievements of Koch’s career. Joe was in charge of that. Then, he came to Rochester, and, initially, I believe he worked for Eastman Kodak Company. Because they wanted to be sure they were in compliance, and Joe knew all of the requirements through his work in New York City. He also always had a great passion for youth. He worked for Hillside Children’s Center for 17 years. He was always involved in the community, and we used to intersect on a political landscape. He asked, ‘Would I be interested in hiring him as a community liaison?’ I said, ‘Joe, are you kidding me? I should be begging you to work for me.’ So, he came, and he worked for me the entire time I was in the Senate. And, literally, he became one of my closest friends. He was just a wonderful guy. He just genuinely enjoyed people, but wanted to help people. He cared about everybody. And, that is the essence of who Joe was. He was just a wonderful person, and it’s a huge loss for our community.”

Geena Cruz, community and civil rights activist – Minister Joseph Brown was a marvelous man, minster, mentor, and motivational speaker. He was a civil rights, political and community activist who paved the way for many of us. His best quality was that he loved the Lord, and truly blessed everyone he came into in contact with. Joe was a powerful, prayerful man, and saw in us what we may have never seen in ourselves – “potential.” His friendship was genuine. And, let’s not forget that he loved being a “Que Dog,” Omega Psi Phi. He was truly a political genius.”

Zola Brown, executive vice president, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists –“Joe was our community father. A great activist for the people, Joe always got to the core of issues, and eloquently gave you a resolve.”

Jamie Romeo, Monroe County Democratic Party Chair – “He was one of the aides we had for Ted Obrien when we were in the Senate, when I was Ted’s chief of staff. Joe always had a way of bringing people together, and he was such a key part of the family. We really just had so many people, from so many parts of the county. We learned so much from him, and he definitely was very passionate. He was so active, and he was involved in so many great things in the area. It’s kind of difficult, in a few words, to put down what he really meant to us, but he’ll be really greatly missed. His passing came as a shock, not only to me, but to a great many people.”