It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Benjamin (Ben) A. Brown on Saturday afternoon, May 11, 2024, in Templeton, California.  

Ben was born April 30, 1933, in Red House, WV, to parents Albert Miller (AM) Brown and Mary Agnes Donegan Brown. He enjoyed a wonderful childhood in Winfield, WV, where his father served as Putnam County Clerk for six terms. He graduated from Winfield High School in 1951.    

Ben was a lifelong journalist who loved the press. As a boy, he self-published a “newspaper” about town events. He later worked part-time for the weekly paper, The Putnam Democrat, and was the editor of his high school newspaper and yearbook.   

He also loved sports. During two bouts of rheumatic fever, he had to stay in bed and his father taught him to keep score of baseball games. He followed the Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals on the radio and kept the score from his bed.             

Ben graduated from Morris Harvey College (now the University of Charleston) in Charleston, WV, in 1954. He worked as the college’s director of sports information and as the sports editor for the college newspaper. He transferred to Florida State University (FSU) and graduated in 1955 with a degree in journalism. He was always a diehard fan of FSU and the Lakers.  

In 1957, Ben became a newsman with The Associated Press in the AP’s Charlotte, N.C. bureau. In 1966, he became a correspondent in charge of the St. Louis bureau. He held this position until 1968 when he was named chief of the Helena, MT, bureau of the AP. In 1970, he moved to Minneapolis as chief of bureau for Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

In 1976, Ben became a newspaper membership executive at the general headquarters of the AP in New York. He was a general executive of the AP when he was appointed chief of bureau in Los Angeles in 1978.  He held that position until 1982, when he returned to New York as a general executive in the membership department.  He continued as a general executive of the AP until he retired in March 1993. 

Ben loved working for the AP. He admired and respected his many colleagues across the country and the world. In his news career, Brown covered integration stories in the South, professional football, basketball, and baseball in St. Louis, including the 1967 World Series. As chief of bureau, he helped direct the coverage of the Rapid City S.D., flood in 1972 that left 238 dead, the takeover of Wounded Knee, S.D., by a group of American Indians and elections in several states.  

Ben met his lifelong sweetheart, Joanne Harder, while working at a cafeteria in Charleston. They were married on May 22, 1956, and remained married for 66 years until she passed away in May 2023. While LA Bureau Chief for the AP, he visited and fell in love with Paso Robles. He brought Joanne to see the area and they immediately decided to retire in Paso. They lived there for more than 30 years and spent their time exploring the local backroads, visiting the coastal towns of San Luis Obispo and Monterey counties, enjoying wineries and local restaurants. Ben taught a class in journalism at Cuesta College when he initially retired. His last dinner out was at the Loading Chute in Creston, which he and Joanne frequented numerous times over the years. They loved the fair and went together to see grandstand and free shows. They also traveled to Europe and to visit their children and relatives. They were very happy and content sitting on their porch chatting.  

Ben and Joanne were very proud of their four children, four grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. They had four children: Andy (LuAnn), Minneapolis, Minn.; Gretchen (John), Templeton, California and Northport, MI.; Mark (Janet), Thousand Oaks, Calif.; and Betsy (Mike), Phoenix, Ariz.; and four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Ben was also very close to his sister, Mary Maddox of Corolla, NC, and her family and Joanne’s family, including Clark and Barbara Harder of Wimauma, FL.   

Ben lived a full life. He was a kind and gentle man who loved his family, his work, FSU football, the family dogs, and the kind and gentle people of Putnam County, WV, and Paso Robles, CA. He was always there and supported others. He will be greatly missed, loved, and remembered forever.  

A celebration of life service will be held on Thursday, June 6, 2024, at 11 am at the Chapel at Paso Robles District Cemetery.