The Big Sandy Mountaineer -

John L. Brown


September 6, 2017

John L. Brown, 88, of Big Sandy, passed away due to natural causes on Sunday, August 27, 2017, at the Big Sandy Medical Center. Funeral services will be at 11:00 a.m. on Monday, September 11, 2017, at the Big Sandy Methodist Church with Pastor Sharon Robertson officiating, and visitation will be held one hour prior to the service. Burial will follow in the Big Sandy Cemetery. A luncheon will be held at the Big Sandy Methodist Church immediately after the graveside service. John's family has requested that memorial donations be made in John's name to the Big Sandy Medical Center, PO Box 530, Big Sandy, MT 59520, to the Big Sandy United Methodist Church, 254 Johannes Ave, Big Sandy, MT 59520, or to the charity of the donor's choice. Holland & Bonine Funeral Home has been entrusted with services and arrangements. Please visit John's online memorial page and leave a message of condolence for his family at

John was born on October 12, 1928, in Wishek, ND, to LeRoy and Ida (Weber) Brown. He was raised in Wishek attending school there through the 8th grade, when his brothers entered the military and he began working for the neighbor. At 18, John entered the North Dakota National Guard, and served until his honorable discharge in 1948. He married Colette Schweigert in 1951, and the couple had four children. The family moved to Big Sandy in 1963 from Lodi, CA, where John had been working as a welder. He moved the Cowan and Son Merchantile building from Box Elder to Big Sandy in 1969, and the family lived next door, while his welding business grew to be a huge part of the community. John and Colette divorced in 1978. In 1981, he married Elizabeth Chamberlain, and the couple later separated.

John loved to stay busy. He began salvaging as a child of 6, and continued until his death. He worked for the city, as he hated to see salvageable material placed in "Woolworth's", as he referred to the dump. Some may have been offended by his rules, but he had the best intentions for the Big Sandy Community in his heart. He also built a can crusher many years ago, and bought pop cans from the locals just to ensure they didn't end up in the dump. John welded up until the weeks before his death, fabricating ornaments for friends and neighbors. He enjoyed helping others, fishing, plowing snow, and mowing his lawns. He also spent the last 20 years sitting in a chair in the same spot every day for a bit, just to enjoy the view.

He was preceded in death by his grandson Ira Gardiner; step-son, Larry Chamberlain and step-granddaughter, Michelle Fell, his brothers Robert, Ralph, Elmer, Fred, and Marvin Brown; and his sisters Irene Keller and Virginia Dick.

John is survived by his wife Elizabeth N. Brown of Havre; his daughters, Karen Gardiner of Helena and Sharon Brockway of Big Sandy; his sons, Richard (Cathy) Brown of Havre and John (Kelley) Brown, Jr., of Arkansas City, Kansas; his 12 grandchildren; his 17 great-grandchildren; his sister Esther Walth; and numerous nieces and nephews.



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