Obituary: John Conard Brown
Great-grandfather, longtime Claremont dentist, traveler, pilot
Dr. John C. Brown, 97, a longtime resident of both Cedar City, Utah, and Claremont, died peacefully surrounded by his family on December 17, 2023, at the home of his son in St. George, Utah.
John was born March 27, 1926, in Cedar City, Utah, the first of 10 children born to John Middleton Brown and Althea Lund Brown. He loved sharing stories of his early childhood adventures growing up on a farm in Hamilton’s Fort, where he developed a strong work ethic, an aptitude for fixing anything mechanical, and an amazing accuracy with a rifle.
As a teen his family moved to a home in Cedar City. He attended school, graduating from Cedar High in 1944. An exceptional student, he maintained a high GPA even while working as a projectionist at Cedar City’s movie theaters or making overnight round trips to Las Vegas and back with truckloads of livestock. His jobs funded the purchase of an old Model A Ford, which he completely overhauled himself, including re-upholstering the interior. He was one of only three high school students who owned a car. He also used his income to fund flying lessons from the Utah Air National Guard, earning his pilot’s license as a high school senior. He loved flying and hoped to be a pilot in the U.S. Navy during World War II, but because of red/green colorblindness he was grounded. However, due to his aptitude for science he was recruited to serve as an electronics technician stationed off the coast of California working on top secret radar detection and countermeasures.
He was honorably discharged following the end of the war. Shortly after his return home he was called to serve as a proselyting missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He served in the Eastern States Mission, laboring mainly in Pennsylvania and New York. It was during his mission that he developed a strong knowledge and testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ which grew stronger throughout his life.
After his mission, he noticed a beautiful blond in a red dress, Mary Morris. She was his little sister’s friend who had grown up while he was away. They dated during her senior year of high school and were married May 20, 1950, in the St. George Temple. They both attended Branch Agricultural College (now Southern Utah University) where he graduated as valedictorian in 1951.
He worked multiple jobs to support his growing family, which included trading in livestock, selling cars, and bookkeeping at the Morris family-owned automobile dealership. In 1957 he moved his family, including three young children, to Torrance, California. At the age of 31 he enrolled at the University of Southern California Dental School. Despite the challenges of returning to school while supporting a family, he excelled. He was valedictorian of his dental class in 1961, earning his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree, along with multiple awards and honors for clinical and academic excellence.
The family then took up residence in Claremont, where he established a successful, quality dental practice in the Village area. During his career he was continually engaged in furthering his education and improving his dental skills. In addition, he taught part time at USC and devoted service and leadership to many dental associations on the local, state, and national level. He ultimately served from 1988 to 1989 as national president of the Academy of General Dentistry, representing 40,000 dentists. Along the way, he was inducted into numerous honorary dental societies recognizing his excellence in leadership and clinical skills. He was also instrumental in the formation of The Dentists Insurance Company, which has been rated by AM Best as excellent for 29 years.
He enjoyed fishing, hunting squirrels (300+), writing letters to the editor of the Courier, do-it-yourself projects, and worldwide adventures. As a couple, he and Mary visited 49 of 50 states and every continent except Antarctica. Resuming his love of flying, he earned his instrument and commercial ratings and flew his beloved Piper Cherokee-Six (N4069W) throughout the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. He was a proud member of the UFO — United Flying Octogenarians — taking his last solo flight at the age of 89. He also received an award from the FAA for 50 years of accident free flying.
“Service was the hallmark of John’s life, whether it was free dental care to those in need, Kiwanis club activities or, most notably, leadership through his membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” his family shared. “It was serving as a home-teacher where he had an incredible impact for good.”
Dr. Brown is survived by his children, Conard “Lee” (Aneta), of Kansas City, Missouri; Douglas (Sharon), of St. George, Utah; and Carol Davis (Steven) Henderson, of Nevada; siblings David Brown, Lorin Brown, Virginia Cate, and Cheryl Mitchell; fifteen grandchildren; and 51 great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Mary; his parents, John and Althea Brown; siblings, Richard “Tom”, Doris Cannon, Donna Homer, William “Bill”, and Scott.
Funeral services will be held on Saturday, January 13, in the Sun River 3rd Ward chapel, 1483 Angel Arch Dr, St. George, Utah 84790. There will be a viewing from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m., with the funeral starting at 11. Interment will be held at 3 p.m. at the Cedar City Cemetery under the direction of Southern Utah Mortuary.