2019 Hall of Distinguished Alumni Award
The oldest of seven children from a family of modest means, he watched his father work three jobs at times to provide for his family.
Just as surely as he can trace his own work ethic and ceaseless drive to succeed to his father’s example, so can Tim Brown, ’72, look back on his childhood and find the roots of his desire to serve others.
Four years after earning a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Eastern, which he attended on a golf scholarship, Mr. Brown joined Thomas Industries as manager of internal audit and taxes. Rising quickly through the ranks, he was named president, CEO, and chairman of the board of Thomas in 1992. When Thomas was acquired by another firm in 2005, Mr. Brown decided to retire, but not before his team had built a worldwide business and “gave shareholders a great return on their investment.”
But another challenge awaited. Having joined the EKU Foundation Board in late 2004, Mr. Brown so impressed his fellow members with his business acumen, character, and leadership skills that in 2012, he was tapped to chair the board at a time when it faced some significant and pressing issues, including the future of Arlington.
“We as a board made decisions to improve disciplines with the Foundation and development office, as well as affirm our commitment to Arlington,” he said. “Above all, we expanded the board and brought on more talent, including my replacement, Maribeth Berman, who is excellent.”
Financial support to one’s chosen charities is critical, Mr. Brown said. “But also important is involvement. Your experiences, successes, failures, and mistakes can be shared with others and be a help.”
Mr. Brown certainly fulfilled that role when he served from 2004 to 2010 on the Kentucky Derby Museum Board of Directors in his native Louisville. During his tenure, which included a term as chair, the museum was able to secure the Bill Shoemaker Collection, then its largest collection. Never one to leave a job unfinished, he agreed to extend his term in the wake of a devastating flood that necessitated renovations of the facility.
Originally published in EKU Alumni Awards.
Mr. Timothy Brown
President, Chairman, and CEO, Thomas Industries (Retired)
EKU Foundation Board
Eastern Kentucky University, ’72 BBA in Accounting