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David P. BrownFebruary 2, 2007
ALBANY - David P. Brown, chief executive officer of Sawchuk, Brown Associates and noted community leader, died suddenly Feb. 2 at his home. He was 61. David and his wife, Pamela Howe Sawchuk Brown built Sawchuk, Brown Associates into the leading public relations/public affairs/strategic marketing firm in Tech Valley. He was also known for his ardent involvement with community organizations in Albany and Troy.
Born in Troy, N.Y., David was the son of Paul L. Brown and Marjorie Buckley Brown of Troy, both deceased. He leaves his beloved wife and business partner, Pamela Howe Sawchuk Brown of Albany; a son, Paul D. Brown of Troy; a daughter, Elizabeth Mankin of Poestenkill; and four grandchildren, Nathan and Owen Brown and Juliet and Claire Mankin. He also leaves four brothers, James Brown of Albany, Curtiss Brown of Waterford, Michael Brown of Florida and Patrick Bywater of Waterford, and as well as his dear aunt, Eleanor Buckley of Waterford; a nephew and fellow bibliophile, Matthew Mason McCarty, who is currently studying at Oxford University in England; and his sister-in-law, Sally G. Howe of Troy; and a brother-in-law, Todd R. Howe of Washington, D.C.
David joined the public relations agency in 1981, two years after Pamela started it. Over the past 25 years, he continually took the firm in new directions to keep it at the forefront of the communications field and to expand its capabilities. He loved exploring and discovery and was never afraid to take risks. While managing Sawchuk, Brown, David began and grew the firm's public affairs and technology practices, added a new media component, led its crisis communications team and was speechwriter and counselor to a wide range of business leaders as well as political figures from senators to sheriffs, from congress members to city councilors.
David was one of the nation's premier public relations executives, and his opinions and expertise were routinely sought by industry trade press, fellow practitioners and academics. His leadership and innovation have led to changes in the field and have resulted in standards used throughout the nation.
Over the years, David mentored dozens of young people who now run their own public relations firms or manage public relations/public affairs efforts at major organizations. Many say that David helped them find and develop their passion for PR, and he remained in touch with them as they moved on to positions across Tech Valley and the nation.
Prior to joining Pamela at the public relations agency, David worked at the Times Union from 1971, beginning as copy editor and quickly rising to "slot man" and then executive Sunday editor and executive news editor. He was known for his eye for design before design was considered important at newspapers, and his insistence on lively stories made the Sunday paper exceptional.
Before working at the Times Union, David was a reporter at the Record in Troy, a town he called, "a newspaperman's dream;" at the Daily Press in Newport News, Va.; and at an Air Force base newspaper in Virginia. He was also a columnist for Yachting Magazine, despite his aversion to water. At the time of his death, David was authoring a book to fill in the "lost" years in the Sherlock Holmes mysteries, which he set in Albany, N.Y.
David gained great insight into people and life from his first jobs as a teenager - a feather washer in Cohoes and a fish fileter at a local fish fry emporium.
David was an alumnus of Syracuse University where he studied history and played baseball. He loved history in general and Albany and Troy history in particular. David filled the walls of his and Pamela's historic Albany home with more than 6,000 books, adding an addition in 2000 to make room for more books. Among his collections were volumes about President Theodore Roosevelt, New York history, local history and journalism, plus British mysteries.
David was deeply involved in both the Troy and Albany communities. He was past president of the Rensselaer County Historical Society and led its recent capital campaign; was a charter member of Troy 2020, a group focusing on economic development; and served as vice president of the board of the Albany Public Library. He also served on the boards of the American Heart Association Northeast Affiliate and the Howard and Bush Foundation, was a past director of the Center for Economic Growth and was involved with countless other community organizations.
He was director emeritus of the board of the American Marketing Association's New York Capital chapter, was past president of the Northeastern New York chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators and received a Presidential Citation from the Public Relations Society of America.
A memorial service celebrating David's life will be held Saturday, Feb. 10 at 1:00 p.m. at the Bush Memorial Hall at Russell Sage College. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the David P. Brown Memorial Fund at the Rensselaer County Historical Society.