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Hubert E. Brown Sr., 87, retired Philly police officer and gifted singer

Mr. Brown loved to sing - in church, at home, and with an a cappella group. At their 2002 wedding, he serenaded his wife with the song "One in a Million You."

Hubert Emory Brown Sr., 87, of Aldan, a retired Philadelphia police officer and security guard who was known for his beautiful singing voice, died Nov. 5 of complications from dementia at Saunders House, Wynnewood.

Mr. Brown was born in the former Mercy-Douglass Hospital in West Philadelphia to Clarence and Daisy Wilson Brown. He was the youngest of six children.

He graduated from Overbrook High School in 1948. While there, he participated in track and cross-country.

At a very early age, he was baptized at Shiloh Baptist Church in South Philadelphia. He married Cora Arnold. The couple had six children before divorcing. She died in 2005.

In 1953, Mr. Brown joined the Philadelphia Police Department as a patrolman. During the last 12 years of his 28-year career, he was assigned to the security detail at John Bartram High School in Southwest Philadelphia.

He retired on Jan. 4, 1981, but not for long. He found work at Cathedral Village, a retirement community in Andorra, as a security guard for almost 10 years. He retired for good, only after suffering a heart attack.

Blessed with a beautiful tenor voice, Mr. Brown sang at home, in public, and in church throughout his life. When he and Arlene L. Duncan-Brown, a longtime family friend, were married in April 2002, he surprised her and other church-goers by singing "One in a Million You."

For many years he was a member of Calvary Baptist Church, where he served as a trustee and sang with the Talmadge Chorus. He was honored with a plaque for 25 years of service with the chorus.

In 2008, he joined Mount Carmel Baptist Church and became a member of the Mount Carmel Chorus, the male chorus, and the Men of Mount Carmel.

"He always said that he wanted to be a troubadour for the Lord, to sing and give thanks and praise to the Lord for all that he had done for him. Singing was his ministry," his wife said.

There were many Sunday mornings when he would stand up during the Baptist church service and belt out one of his favorite country-music songs, "Gathering Flowers for the Master's Bouquet."

For 20 years, he also sang with a Philadelphia-area a cappella group, the Stillman Specials. The group was composed of five friends from different area churches who sang gospel songs.

Mr. Brown was very good company, his wife said.

"He was a real gentleman, always opening or closing the door for a lady, walking on the outside of the curb to protect her, always showing appreciation for whatever was done for him," she said.

Mr. Brown was also a "real smooth dancer," his wife said. He enjoyed going to the racetrack, listening to jazz and gospel music, and shooting pool.

"He was very good at this," his wife said. "He had his own pool stick, taking it with him, even on vacations, just in case he got the opportunity to shoot some pool."

In addition to his wife, he is survived by children Wendell, Kevin, Carlton, Kim Williams, and Derek; many grandchildren and great-grandchildren; and nieces and nephews. Mr. Brown's eldest son, Hubert Jr., and all five of his siblings died earlier.

A viewing starting at 9 a.m. Monday, Nov. 13, will be followed by an 11 a.m. funeral at Mount Carmel Baptist Church, 5732 Race St., Philadelphia. Interment is in West Laurel Hill Cemetery, Bala Cynwyd.