Like many dads, a local man will be celebrating Father’s Day at home today surrounded by family. But he’ll be the rare dad who’ll be joined by four younger generations.
Elmo Brown has plenty of experience as a father — 81 years, to be precise. He’ll also be celebrating his 105th birthday on June 30.
“I take these things in stride and don’t think too much about them anymore,” Brown said with an easy laugh — one of many during a brief conversation Thursday.
“We just didn’t celebrate birthdays way back,” he said. “I probably had birthdays when I was young when I wasn’t even told I had one. … That might be unusual, but that’s the way it was.”
While Brown may not think much about Father’s Day and birthdays, he mentioned he is looking forward to a visit today from his son, Alan, of Simpsonville, Kentucky. Also there either in person or spirit will be Brown’s eight grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren, and four great-great grandchildren “with another on the way,” according to Brown’s daughter Barbara Tempel.
Brown laughed and hedged a bit when asked if he had any fatherly advice to dispense, but the experience he offers still seems to apply. “I was a father way back in 19-and-41,” he said, “and you just went along with the times. And you just had to do what you had to do.”
Brown married Helen Ruth Miller in 1940, and what he had to do to help raise a family, including Barbara — his and Helen’s first-born child — was go to work at the Indiana Army Ammunition Plant in Charlestown. Working with gunpowder and later nitroglycerine, Brown made munitions and rockets for the American military effort during World War II. It was dangerous work, he said, recalling a time during a mishap when even the plant’s sprinkler system couldn’t contain a major fire.
He later worked at a sawmill, delivered seed and worked making heavy-duty appliances, among other jobs, before retiring about 40 years ago. Helen, his wife of 72 years, died in 2012.
Brown lived most of his life in Washington County, and for a short time in Jackson County, before moving in about four years ago with Barbara and her husband, Jim. Jim Tempel retired from Cummins Inc. after a career in computers that also included working at IBM, but he stays active as a local RE/MAX Realtor.
And while Brown is officially a Columbus city slicker these days, his heart has always stayed out in the country and down on the farm.
“You would think with all the changes in the last 105 years, he would be impressed about going to the moon or something, but he’s more impressed with the big farm equipment out in the field,” Barbara Tempel said with a laugh of her own.
She said her dad is in good physical condition, and he gets around with the aid of a walker. He enjoys watching “Gunsmoke” on TV, working word puzzles, and he likes to get out for car rides from time to time.
“His favorite thing to do and one of things he misses most is being able to make a garden,” Tempel said. Her dad does have some physical limitations, and the family home has space limitations that make a big garden impractical, but they do still manage to put out a few tomatoes, peppers and such.
Brown is unable to attend church services anymore, Tempel said, but her dad remains connected to his faith. She said he stays in touch with fellow members of his “little country church,” Big Springs Church of Christ in Pekin, south of Salem.
Brown has a no-nonsense view of Father’s Day and making a fuss about someone just because they’re about to turn 105 years old.
“I was never one to celebrate things like they do these days,” he said. And he laughed again.