Edwin Brown, helped found Edina church

  • Article by: MARIA ELENA BACA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 4, 2010 - 11:43 PM

The longtime Edina dentist who helped start the Lutheran Church of the Master in 1960 "was always giving gifts of encouragement."

Edwin Brown, a longtime Edina dentist who helped start the Lutheran Church of the Master in 1960, “was always giving gifts of encouragement.”

One of Edwin (Ned) Brown's last acts was to send a bouquet to a nursing home neighbor who was moving to another floor.

"This is just the way he was," said a daughter, Nancy Johnson of Bloomington. "He was a cheerleader for everyone he met."

Without fanfare, he provided dental care and bicycles for his caregivers' children, paid airfare for a church member's trip to Israel and sponsored a family of refugees newly relocated to his hometown of Northfield.

"He was always giving gifts of encouragement," Johnson said. "He had a way of knowing or finding out what someone else wanted or needed and helping with it."

The longtime Edina dentist died last week, days after suffering a stroke. He was 88.

Brown was born in Northfield in 1922. He studied science at St. Olaf College and earned his dentistry certification from the University of Minnesota.

While he was studying, he lost five school friends to World War II, including his best friend, Leland Rowberg, who died in the Battle of the Bulge.

Brown served in the U.S. Army dental corps in Japan for two years after the war ended.

That was hard because his eldest daughter, Susan, was born during his absence, Johnson said.

Once home, Brown established a dental practice in Northfield. He and his wife, Elizabeth, had three more daughters.

In 1959, the family moved to Edina. Brown started a new practice in Southdale Medical Building. Johnson remembers playing with her sisters on the sand piles in the undeveloped part of the new city.

The family traveled often to their cabin on the Gunflint Trail, to Maui and to Norway to visit Elizabeth Brown's relatives there.

A new church in Edina

Along with five other couples, the Browns worked to establish a new church in Edina; the Lutheran Church of the Master was established in 1960.

"The church was the main focus of my parents' life throughout the next several years as we were growing up," Johnson said. All four daughters were married there; several grandchildren also were baptized there. "His deep faith is what steered him in his life," Johnson said

As the area around 70th Street and France Avenue was built up, however, membership shrank, and the Lutheran synod dissolved the congregation in the mid-1990s.

"That really was hard on my mother," Johnson said. "That was like a death in the family. But dad had a positive attitude about everything. I never heard him complain. I heard him say, 'Well, that's the way things go.'... Dad had the attitude in life that you take things as they come and there are going to be bad things, but you don't dwell on them and you have a positive attitude. That was his mantra."

In addition to his daughter Nancy, Brown is survived by daughters Susan Schendel of Menlo Park, Calif., Heidi Bauer of Ramsey and Melissa Brown of Corralville, Iowa, seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his wife, brothers Richard and Robert and sister Ruthella (Bonnie) McDonald.

His funeral will be at 11 a.m. Friday, with visitation at 10 a.m., at Community of the Cross Lutheran Church, 10701 Bloomington Ferry Road, Bloomington.

Maria Elena Baca • 612-673-4409

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