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Saigon Kid Peter Brownell’s Father Passed Away At 96

Peter’s father, Lincoln Brownell, passed away Sunday, December 26, 2010 at the age of 96.

He passed quietly and comfortably at his home in Williston, Vermont. Peter was with him along with his two brothers Bart and Rick.

Peter’s father published a book in 2006 of his memoirs and his recollections of the family history from 1800 through his life time, including fun tales of his many years in Saigon.

Peter has been kind enough to share the book with our Saigon Kids family. I’ll be posting it to the Blog under a separate article in a few days.

Published in The Burlington Free Press on December 28, 2010

Lincoln C. Brownell

WILLISTON – Lincoln C. Brownell, of Lincoln Road, Williston, died peacefully at home, surrounded by his family on Dec. 26, aged 96. He was the son of Henry C. Brownell, UVM class of 1908, who, with his wife Jane, served 44 years as an educational missionary at Lingnan University in Guangzhou, China; later retired to Burlington. Lincoln was born in Guangzhou in 1914. He attended American community schools in China; but graduated from Burlington High School in 1931. Thereafter he attended Yale College and Yale Law; subsequently joining the New York law firm of Sullivan and Cromwell. In 1941, he volunteered for the U.S. Air Force and became a flying instructor. Following his marriage that year to Mary Hester (Gaskill) “Jerry” Brownell, they were stationed in Florida. After Pearl Harbor, he served for two years in Chongqing, China, as Air Attache in the American embassy. In the final year of the war, he served on the intelligence staff of Gen H.H. Arnold at the Pentagon; and ultimately became Colonel, USAFR. After the war, he returned to Sullivan and Cromwell and later the American Banknote Company. Growing restless, he founded, with a friend, the firm of Brownell, Lane International Ltd, to start trade between the U.S. and French Indochina. They opened an office in Saigon in 1952. Upon the death of his partner in 1961, the Brownell family moved to Saigon and lived there for the next 14 years until the communist takeover in 1975. After the fall of Saigon, Lincoln and Mary Hester retired to Williston, where they built a home on land once part of the Brownell homestead. His beloved wife predeceased him in 2007. In retirement he served as Advisory Board Chair of RSVP, Associate Trustee of St. Michael’s College, Chair of the Act 250 District 4 Environmental Commission for Chittenden County, President of the Williston Historical Society, chair of the committee preserving and rebuilding the Town Hall, a trustee of Howard Human Services, and member of the Williston Town Historic Preservation Committee. With his childhood friends, Ralph Nading Hill, George E. Little Jr., and others he helped purchase and restore the Ethan Allen Homestead in Burlington. He was also donor of a fund to support the Williston Historical Society, to provide a permanent home for the Society in the town library, to publish Willard Sterne Randall’s book, Thomas Chittenden’s Town, A History of Williston, Vermont, and for the statues of Governor Thomas Chittenden now standing on the Williston town green and in Montpelier. Lincoln and Mary Hester are survived by three sons, former Mayor and State Senator, Peter and wife, Linda Brownell, of Williston, Bart and Michal Brownell of London, England, and former Chittenden Bank Vice President, Richard and wife, Susan Brownell, of Williston; and by grand- children, Lauren, Coberlin, Jameson, Alicia, Emma, Michael, Sam, James, and Kimberly; also two sisters, Priscilla Brown of Underhill Center, and Betty Jane Montgomery of South Hero, and their families. A memorial service and celebration of his life for family and friends will be held at a later date.

8 comments to Saigon Kid Peter Brownell’s Father Passed Away At 96

  • Peter Brownell

    Thank you so much for posting this one for us.

    Best – Peter, Bart, & Richard

  • Mike McNally

    Peter, what a wonderful life your father had. My sympathy to you and the family. I’m anxious to read his memoirs…Mike McNally

  • Suellen Oliver Campbell

    What an amazing legacy your father left for all. I will look forward to reading your father’s memoirs of a very full life.
    May you and your family experience peace in the coming days.
    Suellen Oliver Campbell
    Saigon Kid 1958-60

  • Frank

    Peter, I’m sorry. No matter what age, it is hard to say goodbye to a love one. The “Greatest Generation” hopefully lives on in each of the SaigonKids,for our parents were on the cutting edge. Frank

  • Randy Seely

    Peter…My sincere condolences to you and the entire Brownell family! So very sorry for your loss. Randy

  • Marie Perry Wright

    Hi Peter,
    I remember you from Saigon…nice to see you here, and read this wonderful piece on your father!
    we had some pretty incredible parents….
    Hope this finds you well,
    Marie Perry (Wright)

  • Virginia Mathis Reid

    Hi Peter,

    Haven’t spoken to you in years, but am sorry to hear of your father’s passing. I remember the good times in Saigon when we were kids and lunches with your Mom and Dad.

    My best,

    Virginia Mathis (Reid)

  • Clif Banner

    Hi, Peter,
    I came across you Dad’s obituary while building a presentation about my experiences as an Air Force pilot. Thinking back on the “good old days” at Craig. Your father has a wonderful story, and in getting to this article, I’ve seen your life has been quite colorful, as well.

    I realize we, each, have a story, and those lucky few of us who got to fly for this Nation’s Air Force are the lucky ones, certainly! Hope all is well with you and Linda.

    Linda (Banner) sends her best. She is an annual visitor to the Vermont Quilt Guild Show at Essex Junction.

    Clif and Linda Banner
    Nashua, NH

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