By Charlie’s family
You’ll remember me when the west wind moves
Among the fields of barley
You’ll forget the sun in his jealous sky as
We walk in fields of gold
Charlie Browder loved his family and friends, dearly, and they loved him, dearly.
His mother-in-law, Joe Corn Stuart, said on more than one occasion, “Charlie Browder is one of the finest men to ever live.” There is no disputing that. His entire life revolved around doing for others. He never missed an opportunity to be generous, whether it was piling freshly picked cantaloupes outside a door, stopping to help a stranded motorist, or even buying someone a much needed lawn mower. This generosity all came out of the sweat of his brow. Charlie grew up on Homestead Farm. As a young boy, he planted shrubs for The Browder Nursery and topped countless rows of tobacco plants. One lean year in his early twenties, he worked dawn until dusk and only spent $20 on himself, for a pocketknife.
When he wasn’t studying, doing chores, or practicing tennis, he took piano lessons. He admired his Aunt Catherine Foree, a Julliard graduate, and took care of her in her later years. Charlie never did anything half way. He so excelled at Tennessee Military Institute in Sweetwater, Tenn., that West Point offered him a full scholarship. At his father’s request, he turned down the honor to attend The University of Georgia’s prestigious College of Agriculture & Environmental Sciences. Charlie made the Dean’s List at Georgia all four years. He was captain of the tennis team and famous for his forehand. His mother, Elizabeth Foree, taught the game to her two boys and many local players. As teens, Charlie and Carey were ranked #11 in doubles in the United States. The Browders also played tennis matches with their friends on their indoor court, next to the historic home place.
Originally, Charlie wanted to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather, Dr. C.O Foree, founder of The Foree Hospital in Athens, Tenn. He gave up that dream to run the dairy farm that had been in the family for five generations. In 1865, Rachel Dickey and David A. Browder “homesteaded” the original part of the farm in Sweetwater, Tennessee. David’s father, William, primarily funded the building of The Browder Memorial Methodist Church there. The bricks were handmade from the ground and baked on the property. Homestead Farm, ultimately a total of 2400 debt-free acres, became one of the finest dairy farms in Tennessee. The herd of 1100 registered Jerseys was second to none. Charlie rarely bragged about his accomplishments, but he was proud of the prize bull he raised, Noble Triumph. Charlie’s father, Charles Oscar Browder, Jr., often recited these lines from the Rudyard Kipling poem, “If:”
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same…
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And-which is more-you will be a man, my son!
On March 7, 1981, Mary Belle Stuart married that man after a one of a kind courtship: tennis at the Chattanooga Racquet Club; skiing at Watts Bar Lake; dining and playing Space Invaders at various pubs; and her favorite part, riding around ankle-deep in soda cans in his Ford pick-up, listening to country radio, and laughing nonstop. Charlie’s proposal was one only he could pull off. He took a handkerchief tied around two heirloom diamond rings from his Thunderbird glove box, tossed it in her lap, and said, “pick one.” They had two beloved children, Julia and Joe, affectionately called “Nature Girl” and “Possum” by their dad. Fortunately, Charlie lived long enough to know and adore his grandson, Charles Colton Browder, “Colt.” Colton still has the life-size stuffed tiger Charlie gave him when he was born. Charlie also thought the world of his two nieces, Lauren and Lindsay Browder.
The Browders were known for their annual dove shoot and picnic. After an afternoon of hunting, guests enjoyed a hickory smoked rib eye dinner at the pavilion overlooking the 55-acre lake. Charlie and Joe also liked to hunt pheasant at Honeycreek Hunting Preserve in Allardt, Tenn. When Julia and Joe were youngsters, Charlie would give them flashlights and take them hunting after dark for pet frogs. He instilled a love of the great outdoors in his children and was devoted to his family. He loved taking us on vacations at The Cloister on Sea Island. There was never a dull moment with Charlie Browder around. He will be deeply missed, but we are happy for him. In Heaven, he walks in fields of gold.
Note: The lyrics above are from the Eva Cassidy song, “Fields of Gold,” c. EMI Music Publishing, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC. Charlie’s service will be for his immediate family only. We invite you to see his life story in photos at www.CharlesOliverBrowder.wordpress.com. In lieu of flowers, if you want to make a memorial donation, please consider Heifer International, a charity dedicated to ending world hunger and poverty. Charlie would also love it if you would just reminisce about the good days gone by.