CHARLES ST. CLAIR BROWN
ATTORNEY, PUBLIC SERVANT, DISABILITY RIGHTS ADVOCATE
Charles S. Brown, 76 of Winchester, VA, passed away Sunday, August 1, 2021 at Winchester Medical Center.
Charles (Charlie) Brown was born totally blind. Surgeons were able to save some vision, but he remained “legally blind” for life. Charlie and his younger brother James were raised in the Boston Suburbs. Until 8th grade, Charlie attended the Perkins School for the Blind and then became the first blind graduate of Wellesley High School in Wellesley, MA. He received an A.B. in American history from Harvard in 1967. While Charlie was at Harvard, his parents moved to the Chicago area. After Harvard, Charlie moved on to Northwestern Law School. He received a JD and passed the Illinois and Connecticut bars in 1970. In 1969 Charlie married Jacqueline Stone (Vassar, 1968) who was earning an MBA from Northwestern.
It was difficult in those days for blind lawyers to get jobs. Eventually, Charlie and Jacki were able to move to Washington, DC, where Charlie joined the Legislation and Legal Counsel Division of the U.S. Department of Labor Solicitor’s Office (DOL). He rose through the ranks to become Counsel for Special Legal Services. There, he was responsible for supervising and drafting of DOL proposed legislation, preparing and clearing DOL Congressional testimony and internal DOL directives, including Secretary’s Orders. His responsibilities also included serving as counsel to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and management of the DOL’s ethics and financial disclosure program. In this capacity, he worked on obtaining Senate confirmation of numerous DOL officials. In 1982 Charlies received the Departments’ Distinguished Career Service award.
In 1991 he was appointed Designated Agency Ethics Official at the National Science Foundation (NSF). Charlie was responsible for writing and implementing NSF regulations dealing with conflicts of interest, and financial disclosure requirements. Resolving conflict-of-interest issues was important for employees, visiting scientists, and numerous individuals, used as peer reviewers of NSF grant applications. Charlie played a major role in protecting the integrity of the NSF peer review process, which was often referred to as the “gold standard” of merit review within the science and engineering community. In 2006, he received the Foundation’s Gold Medal for his accomplishments.
After retiring from the Government in 2007, Charlie opened his own law practice in Washington, D.C.and later moved to Westminster-Canterbury in Winchester, VA. He specialized in disability rights, voting rights, and nonprofit administration matters. He became active in the American Bar Association (ABA), serving on its Commission on Disability Rights and its standing Committee on Election Law. He was also elected to the Council of the ABA’s Senior Lawyers Division. Other professional activities included serving as a founding board member of the Disability Rights Bar Association, as well as various offices in the National Association of Blind Lawyers.
Charlie was a long-time member of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB). He served in various volunteer positions including: Virginia State President for 26 years, member of the National Board of Directors, and National Treasurer. In 2006, he received the Federation’s Jacobus tenBroek award. It is considered the highest form of achievement within the NFB and is not necessarily presented each year. Rather it is to be given only so often as a member has earned it.
Charlie and Jacki were longtime residents of Arlington, Virginia. Both were active in Kiwanis Club of Arlington, and both served terms as its President. Charlie also served on the Virginia Community Integration Advisory Commission for People with Disabilities (a.k.a. Virginia Olmstead Commission), and was President of the Virginia Business Opportunities for the Blind Inc. Charlie and Jacki were both active members of Rock Spring Congregational Church in Arlington, where they held various leadership positions. Charlie also served the wider Church as a member of the United Church Board for Homeland Ministries, for which he served as Chair of its Policy and Planning Committee.
Charlie and Jacki raised two sons Richard and Stephen. Richard lives in Seattle, WA. Where he works as an ICANN specialist for Tucows, Inc. Stephen and his wife Michelle, live in Winchester, VA. Stephen is a teacher and coach with Fairfax County Public Schools. Stephen and Michelle are the parents of their two granddaughters, Hailey and Kelsye Brown.
Services for Charles will be held at 2 PM on Saturday, August 14, 2021 at Omps Funeral Home, 1600 Amherst St. Winchester, VA 22601 (540-662-6633). Due to COVID restrictions, please RSVP: [email protected]
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions in Charlie’s memory may be made to: The National Federation of the Blind of Virginia (NFBV.org/give), 3230 Grove Ave, Richmond, VA 23221 or the Chaplaincy Fund (SVWC.org/donate-now), 300 Westminster-Canterbury Dr, Winchester, VA 22603.