Mike Brown’s 82 years of memories and humor

By Mike Steely

Senior Writer


Former Knox County Commissioner Mike Brown is 82 years young, still active, and still as humorous and contrary as ever. He’s retired now, keeping busy with taking care of his home and wife, and is full of memories and opinions.

The Knoxville Focus caught up with Brown recently and chatted with him.

Known for his humor he said he has a bad habit of “running my mouth before my brain is engaged.” Brown admitted that he has a few regrets over things he may have said.

Many people don’t know that before Brown was a commissioner he once played minor league baseball and was on two fast-pitch softball teams at the same time while working a full-time job.

“A few years ago, Knox County Commission had a softball tournament against the city, the school board and the MPC. I was the pitcher and the county commission won all the games” he recalled.

Brown spends his time keeping his home and property up and keeps active in his local homeowners’ group, his church and the South Knox Republican Club.

He talked about his wife, two daughters and son, and laughed as he said, “My wife Jan and I are Baplics— I’m Baptist and she is Catholic.”

Mike Brown resides on the same land that was granted to his family back in 1788 before Tennessee was a state. He talked about the two Brown family graveyards nearby and the slave graves at one end of the cemetery.

When Brown was on the Knox County Commission you could always hear him emphasize “Under God” in the pledge to the flag. “I’ve always believed in God and I’m concerned about our country. I’m not sure we can turn it about but we’ve got to remind people of our principles and keep trying” he said. He was a leader in getting the Knox County Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission established and served on the committee.

“I hope people will remember me as an advocate for the little guy and for truth and justice. I’ve made all my decisions on those ideas” he said.

Brown added a joke during our chat:

“Evangelist Billy Graham was leaving an event and told his driver he’d like to drive the car. The driver got in the back and Rev. Graham sped down the highway going about 90 miles an hour. A policeman saw the speeding car and pulled it over. He walked to the driver to ask for his license but turned around and went back to the squad car. He called his supervisor and said he needed help because the chauffeur is Billy Graham so the passenger must be really important.”