Alma Brown, Widow of Commerce Secretary Ron Brown, Dies at 76

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Merlin_42533Alma Brown, a bank executive who was the widow of Commerce Secretary and Democratic Party potentate Ronald H. Brown and the mother of former D.C. Council member Michael A. Brown, died April 3 at a hospital in Washington. She was 76.

Mrs. Brown’s death came 20 years to the day after Ron Brown, a Cabinet officer under President Bill Clinton, was killed when a military plane ferrying him and a group of American business executives slammed into a mountainside in Croatia. He was 54 and was on a trade mission to that Balkan country. Thirty-five people died in the crash, which was ruled an accident stemming from factors including pilot miscalculation.

Mrs. Brown was a public servant who dedicated her life to countless organizations supporting the upward mobility of African-American youth, women, and families. She was intimately involved with such social organizations as the Links, Jack and Jill, and Girlfriends. Her passion also followed politics, including being a staunch Democrat and fervent supporter of President Bill Clinton.

The Browns formed a power couple at the nexus of Washington’s political, business and civic life. Mr. Brown was a visionary on the move within the Democratic party and became the first black Chair of the Democratic National Committee. Mrs. Brown facilitated her works through tenures at the Urban League, local radio station WKYS, and as a senior vice president at Chevy Chase Bank.

“Alma devoted her life to her family and doing good,” Bill and Hillary Clinton said in a statement. “She and Ron were quite a team, and after his tragic death . . . Alma redoubled her efforts on behalf of children, college students and underserved communities.”

Besides her son, survivors include a daughter, Tracey Brown James of Manhattan, and four grandchildren.

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