Usually when I refer to people in this column I avoid using honorifics (i.e., Rev., Mr., Mrs.) after the first iteration of their name and never call them by their first name only. It's a procedural thing. But this week I'm going to break the rules to talk about my friend who died last weekend, Dr. Anthony Brown.
I presume to call him my friend, though I shamefully had not seen much of Dr. Brown in the last couple of years. He'd had two kidney transplants in recent years and was in need of a new liver, but time caught up with him at 59, and I am left with my regrets.
He came to my attention in the early '90s through what might be termed his greatest production, the Pride Classic, a youth outreach program - no, make that extravaganza - that featured a locals-vs.-celebrities softball game. Anthony supplied the celebrities, whom he had cultivated during his journey from a Milwaukee childhood through college on the West Coast and time in the NBA office, among many other projects.
Through him I got to meet and play with the actor Richard Roundtree and basketballers Oscar Robertson, Bob Lanier and Darrall Imhoff, among others. Once, after an Isthmus Jazz Festival performance, I took him backstage to greet Nancy Wilson, the great jazz singer. Turns out he knew her too from his L.A. days!
Anthony loved cars, something we had in common, and I understood him to have quite a collection of models. I once told him of my fondness for the 1968 black on white Camaro I had when I first started the paper. The next time I saw him he handed me a detailed miniature of a '68 Camaro from his collection and insisted I keep it.
Dr. Brown's impulse in the post-civil-rights era was to turn racial comity into amity. That was as much the point of the Pride Classic as any other. I can imagine him now rolling around heaven in a Mercedes convertible, wearing an electric blue suit, greeting all who come through the pearly gates as friends. And they all will be.