Mr. Al Brown of Destin, Fla., known to lifelong friends as Rodney and to his family as "Big Daddy," lost his battle with cancer May 2, 2013. He was born Nov. 4, 1943, to Van Peavy and Albert Lorenzo Brown of Vienna, Ga. When he was four his parents divorced and he moved to Clermont, Fla., where his mother met and married Harry Gifford. Upon graduating high school in 1961, Al joined the Navy. He served three and a half years in the Navy then returned to Clermont where he married the former Mary Collins. Before their marriage, he went to work for his birth father, employed in the construction segment of Holiday Inns of America. It was there Mr. Brown learned a trade that served him well for the next 46 years.
He remained employed by Holiday Inns of America for two years then went to work for Puckett and Associates out of Tampa, Fla. In 1973, he joined Varner Construction out of Memphis. Three years later, Mr. Brown located to the Florida Panhandle with his wife and twin daughters and initially worked for Bell Construction. In 1977, he established Beta Builders, Inc. with Clois Darnell whom he had met during the time he worked for Puckett and Associates. A year later, he became sole owner and for the next 35 years, he built homes in Destin, Shalimar, Fort Walton Beach and Santa Rosa Beach as well as several commercial buildings. He also developed four subdivisions.
Mr. Brown was an active lifetime member of the Home Builders Association, serving as an officer and on the board of directors. During those years, he earned the nickname 'Bantam Rooster', a name fitting of his stature and personality.
His mother, father and stepfather preceded Mr. Brown. But his biggest heartbreak was the unexpected loss of his daughter, the beautiful and vivacious Kelly Renneker Westbury who left behind seven children and a hole in the hearts of everyone who knew and loved her. Her death forever changed the dynamics of a marriage and the lives of several family members.
Mr. Brown is survived by his wife, Mary; children, Wendy Brown Tindall of Fort Walton Beach, Lanny Brown of Gulf Shores, Ala., Robbie Brown of Destin, and their significant others, Doug Tindall, Matt Lumpkin and Jeannie Price; grandchildren, Kayla Brown, Kassie and Kyler Renneker, Sam and Jan Lowe, Dawson, Reese, Addason, Kaden Kelly and Josh Westberry. In addition, his unofficial adopted grandchildren, Cameron Gagliano and John and Mary Kate Lumpkin; stepmom, Vicki Brown, Perry, Ga.; sons-in-law, Tom Renneker and Dale Westberry; brothers, Keith Brown, Memphis, Tenn., Ray and Sam Gifford of Montverde, Fla.; sisters, Kathy Bartolli, Clermont, and Kim Novack, Montverde.
In addition to his immediate family, he leaves behind five very special friends, Bob Attkison, the Villages, Mary Ann and Lanny Adkison, Orange Park, Fla., and Roger Peale and Wade Fleshman, Destin.
Following cremation, he will be buried along with the remains of his daughter, Kelly, in a private graveside ceremony at Marler Memorial Cemetery in Destin.
Mr. Brown died as he lived his life, one never to give up and he fought the inevitable until the end. Family request that tokens of remembrance be made to the Cancer Society or Habitat for Humanity.