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GOLD HILL, Ore. — Today NewsWatch 12 mourns the loss of a great journalist and friend. Anchor emeritus Ron Brown's prolonged battle with prostate cancer is at an end, leaving a profound emptiness in Southern Oregon.
Ron committed his life to serving others in the community through his church and his work as a journalist. In 2015, when Ron retired, NewsWatch 12 crafted a tribute to the many ways he impacted the community — and how the community, in turn, impacted him.
Statement from Ron Brown's family on his passing:
Ron Brown passed away peacefully with family members early this morning after a valiant year and half battle with prostate cancer.
Ron worked as a reporter and morning news anchor for almost three decades for KDRV. Other than college and military service, he always lived in Southern Oregon and loved reporting about its history.
He is survived by his wife, Judee; his three children and seven grandchildren.
The family asks in lieu of flowers to do a good deed for another person in his honor.
Now we take a closer look at Ron's life and legacy.
Family and service
Ronald Bryce Brown was born in Klamath Falls October 29, 1946. His parents were Byron and Francis Brown. They moved to the Rogue Valley when Ron was five.
Ron attended Gold Hill schools through eighth grade and graduated from Crater High School, Then went to Brigham Young University where he earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Radio and Television in 1972.
Ron went into the military for three years. He spent 16 months in Vietnam and six months in Germany. His reporting later took him back to Vietnam. He also traveled to Grants Pass' sister city in Russia 3 times, the first in 1990.
Through all of his travels and hard work, his wife Judee was by his side for more than 46 years. They married in 1973.
When Ron retired in 2015, Judee shared this with him:
"Do you remember when we were in college on our very first date, you told me then that it was your career goal to be one of the best and one of the most respected newsmen in the Rogue Valley. Well you have met your goal."
Ron and Judee had three children, who each occasionally appeared on NewsWatch 12 in Ron's reports — like when he interviewed his son Ryan about playing marbles, reported while chaperoning a Girl Scout whale-watching trip with his daughter Celecia, and when his daughter Tiffany accompanied him on a story about "take your daughter to work day."
"Parents taking daughters to work may not produce the next crop of reporters and teachers, but it does give daughters a better idea of what their parents do for a living," Tiffany Brown reported.
She now lives in Iowa with her husband and their children Jakob and Sophie. Celecia lives in Utah with her husband and their two children Colton. Ryan also lives in Utah with his wife and their three kids.
A life in television
One of Ron's favorite memories of reporting for NewsWatch 12 was the time that he and his son Ryan worked together to recreate the first time an Oregon officer was killed in the line of duty. It was Jackson County Sheriff August Singler in 1913.
Ron started his career in broadcasting in 1980 at KRWQ Radio in Gold Hill as the station's newsman. He joined NewsWatch 12 in March of 1986. After 6 years of reporting, Ron became the first anchor of Newswatch 12 This Morning when it launched in 1992.
During his career, Ron received numerous awards for excellence in broadcasting, including an Oregon Heritage Award for his popular Oregon Century 1.5 series commemorating the state's sesquicentennial. That series evolved to become Oregon Trails.
Ron was also awarded best breaking news coverage from the Associated Press after he happened to be rolling during a shooting in 2009.
During his nearly 30 years with NewsWatch 12, Ron estimated he reported on between six and seven thousand stories. Ron kept a copy of nearly every one. He said that his primary concern was always making sure his stories were accurate and would make a difference in someone's life.
He accomplished that goal even at the cost of his own comfort. In May of 2005, Ron was out on a story when he found out his home had caught fire. Instead of leaving work, he finished reporting. Before he retired he talked about the day "he became the news."
When Jackson County Sheriff Mike Winters decided not to seek reelection, Ron Brown was the only journalist to get the interview.
A most respected newsman
After being a part of Southern Oregon and Northern California's morning routine for decades, Ron retired in June of 2015. He had such an impact on the NewsWatch 12 team that the newsroom was named after him: The Ron Brown Newscenter.
Ron didn't let retirement slow him down. He used his knowledge of Southern Oregon history to teach OLLI classes at SOU. He traveled the world with NewsWatch 12 viewers, flying to Europe, cruising to Alaska, and riding trains through the Rockies. And he occasionally joined newscasts to give his insight about the big news of the day.
"He took a biopsy, 12 of them, and every one was positive for cancer and indicated it was starting to spread to the lymph nodes."
Yet Ron never let his health keep him from the world of journalism. He frequently reached out the next generation of young journalists at NewsWatch 12 to offer his wisdom and advice. In February of 2019, Ron came into the studio to share his memories of Oregon Secretary of State Dennis Richardson who had just passed away from brain cancer.
In mid-2019 Ron's cancer battle turned, eventually spreading to his liver.
Ron was 73 years old when he passed away on December 19, 2019. In his last weeks, one of Ron's biggest concerns was that he would be remembered as being an honest, dependable man.