In a humble manner typical of many of Atascadero’s best and brightest, Robert F. “Bob” Brown said that he was surprised to be named the Grand Marshal of the Colony Days celebration.
“I think there’s people more deserving than me,” Brown said after learning that he’d been chosen for the honor.
A Nebraska native, Brown lived through the Great Depression and served in the U.S. Navy during WWII before beginning a long career in broadcasting and advertising sales.
After receiving his first-class broadcasting license at the Don Martin School of Radio in Hollywood, Brown went to work as a DJ — first in Ogden, Utah and then in Billings Montana and finally in Ventura where he began to take an interest in the sales side of the industry. Eventually, Brown went to work as a sales manager at a new radio station in Oxnard and then as a General Manager at KEVC Radio in San Luis Obispo where he would meet his future wife Sue. Brown also bought stock in the station and became part owner.
In addition to his duties managing the station, Brown also became known as the voice of Cal Poly football, serving as a radio announcer for the games from 1960 until 1978.
After selling his interest in the radio station and starting a full-service advertising agency with partner Dan Clarkson, Brown moved to Atascadero at the suggestion of his wife who had been working in town as a bookkeeper.
“I had always kind of thought of it as a place I didn’t want to live, but after moving here I fell in love with Atascadero,” he said.
After the hustle and bustle of life in SLO, Brown said that his favorite thing about Atascadero is the peace and quiet.
“It was just not as active and as busy as San Luis [Obispo] was getting and Cal Poly kept growing and growing,” he said. “And I still like it.”
Now, 42 years later, Brown is preparing to move out of that same home he and Sue bought in 1987 and into an unassisted living apartment at Atascadero Christian Home.
Sadly, Sue passed away from cancer in August of 2017 and at 92 years old, “I decided it was time for me to go into a place I can get care if I need it,” Brown said.
After retiring from his advertising agency in 1993, Bob and Sue rented out their home, bought an RV and hit the road, visiting all 48 contiguous states, eight Canadian provinces, and most of Mexico. They also flew and took cruise ships to Alaska and Hawaii and beyond.
After returning from his travels, Bob decided that he wanted to go back to work and took a part-time sales position with the Atascadero News, serving in the position for five years and becoming the company’s top salesman. He also sold advertising for Gary Brill’s KIQO radio and Sue ran a jewelry story called Gems & Jewelry.
Since moving to Atascadero, Brown has also been a very active member of the Atascadero Elks Club, serving on the club’s veteran committee as well as the committee for one of the club’s largest annual fundraisers, the “Dinner for Two” event that raises funds for various local charities.
“We’ve donated probably right at or a little over a million dollars in charity money over the years,” he said.
Brown also served for many years as the “voice of the fair,” announcing at the California Mid-State Fair and sold ads for many local nonprofit organizations including the Atascadero Greyhound Foundation.
In addition to the five children Brown had with his first wife Charlotte — Bonnie, Steve, Terry Lynne, Donna and Bradley — he also inherited four more daughters when he married Sue: Terilynn, Marcia and twins Sandi and Cindi. Today Brown has 15 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren as well.
Although he spent many years serving on the Colony Days board of directors and has served as a parade judge for the past several years, Brown said he never thought he’d be named Grand Marshal and is looking forward to seeing the parade from the point-of-view of a participant instead of a spectator.
“It was always a nice experience sitting up there on the judging stand and seeing them all enjoy it, the people riding in the parade,” he said.
Brown said that his favorite part of Colony Days is the parade and his favorite part of the parade is “the floats and the bands.”