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Bruce M. Brown, a philanthropy consultant, dies at 73

Mr. Brown gave advice to charitable organizations, but he also gave away money to 15 charities each year, through his family's foundation.

Bruce M. Brown
Bruce M. BrownRead moreCourtesy of the Brown Family (Custom credit)

Bruce Maitland Brown was almost always cheerful as he went about the business of giving advice to charitable organizations and foundations.

Courtly and eloquent, he was well-suited for the job. He had earned his chops by working as vice president for Charitable Trusts at Philadelphia National Bank, now Wells Fargo. In 1993, he formed his own philanthropy consultancy, the H.B.E. Foundation.

“Do all the good you can,” he told others. He lived by that motto, his family said.

Mr. Brown, 73, of Bryn Mawr, died Friday, Dec. 18, of complications from sarcoidosis at Bryn Mawr Hospital. He had battled the inflammatory disease for several years.

He cared deeply about Philadelphia area nonprofits, funding 15 charities each year through the Houston Brown Eldredge Foundation, which did double duty as his consultancy under the H.B.E. moniker.

His most recent job was as a senior philanthropy consultant for Fiduciary Trust Company International in Radnor.

From 1973 to 1987, Mr. Brown worked for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in Rockville, Md. At various times, he served as special assistant to the commissioner of public affairs and as deputy director for the press relations staff.

He volunteered for the Community Foundation of the City of Chester, Hoxie Harrison Smith Foundation, Delaware Valley Grant Makers, Eastern University’s Board of Trustees, Hill Top Preparatory School, Malvern Federal Savings Bank Foundation, Presbyterian Children’s Village, Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania, Salvation Army, and the Capstone Legacy Foundation (a Christian community foundation in Chester County).

Born in Bryn Mawr to Charles Stuart Brown and Margaret Houston, he came from one prominent Philadelphia family and married into another. His great-grandfather served as mayor of the township of Chester, Delaware County.

He graduated from Episcopal Academy and received a bachelor’s degree in government from Lawrence University, a liberal arts college in Appleton, Wis. In 1973, he earned a master’s degree in political science from the University of Kentucky in Lexington.

Mr. Brown enjoyed the language art form of aphorisms and quotes. He wrote three collections of his sayings for family and friends. His first was released in 1997. His second was released in 2014, and a third followed this year. He collaborated with friend Richardson Merriman on the last two collections.

Mr. Brown played soccer at Episcopal and Lawrence University and later served as a referee for high school and college games.

He was a patron of the Philadelphia Union, from the time of the soccer team’s founding in 2008, and rarely missed seeing a game.

“Soccer was in his blood, and he always had a passion for it,” son Carter said. “Having been a ref certainly didn’t stop him from being fiercely critical of the referees at Union games when they made a call he judged to be poor or unfair.”

Keenly interested in meteorology, Mr. Brown loved studying and predicting the weather.

His personality was warm, welcoming, and optimistic. He stuck to his beliefs in conversation, while being unfailingly polite.

He doted on family, maintaining a family tree and organizing outings. He was known for sending a handwritten thank-you note for any gift, large or small. He made sure everyone in his household had a copy of the family history.

Because of his background work, 77 linear feet of historical documents and material pertaining to the Brown and Houston families of Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia have been donated to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

Mr. Brown was a member of St. David’s Episcopal Church, Merion Cricket Club, Union League of Philadelphia, Bay Head, N.J., Yacht Club, and the Pennsylvania Society of the Sons of the Revolution.

Besides his son, he is survived by his wife, Elaine Eldredge Brown; and a brother.

Memorial services will be held when the pandemic ebbs. Interment is private.

Memorial donations may be made to the Foundation for Sarcoidosis Research, 1820 West Webster Ave., Suite 304, Chicago, Ill., 60614 or via