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Obituary for Richard Lane Brown III

Richard Lane Brown III, (October 3, 1940 – May 20, 2022)

Richard Lane Brown Ill, of Pinehurst NC, passed away at First Health on Friday, May 20, 2022 after a short illness. A memorial service to celebrate his life will be held on May 24, 2022 at 1pm at Palmerville Baptist Church located at 40166 Palmerville Rd, Badin, NC with Rev. John Futterer officiating for family and close friends. A private service of interment will follow at the Palmerville Cemetery.

Born October 3, 1940 in Albemarle NC, he was the son of the late Richard L. Brown Jr. and Charlotte Palmer Brown. Educated in the Albemarle City Schools, he earned a BS Degree in Business Administration (1963) and a Juris Doctor Degree (1965) from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. This was followed by post-graduate work at New York University (the LLM tax program) and at Harvard Law School’s nationally recognized Program of Instruction for Lawyers (1977-1978). At Chapel Hill, he was a member of the Sigma Nu Fraternity, and while in law school, the Phil Alpha Delta fraternity.

Having a keen interest in politics, he ran unsuccessfully for the NC House (Stanly County) in 1968, but was successful in capturing the House seat in 1970. Re-elected in 1972 and 1974, Brown was the State’s leading legislator on many educational endeavors. He wrote the 1973 statewide kindergarten legislation; authored a $300 Million school bond referendum which passed in all 100 counties; and rewrote NC’s School Budget and Fiscal Control Act for all state school districts. He was most proud of having secured legislative approval (1971) for Stanly Technical Institute (now Stanly Community College) and served three terms on its Board of Trustees. Other local legislation for Stanly County included incorporating the Town of Locust and establishing the Stanly County Airport Authority, and working with the late Bill Mullinix and Buddy Holt on securing funding for expansion of the airport. Dr. Craig Phillips (former State Supt. of Public Instruction) called Brown one of the “top ten education legislators” in the history of North Carolina.

At the urging of many legislative allies, Brown sought election as State Treasurer of North Carolina, but was defeated in the State’s Democratic Primary (1976) by Deputy Treasurer Harlan Boyles. The two remained good friends and Brown served as a consultant on many bond projects for the General Assembly and the State in later years. Following this break in legislative service, Brown served on the Presidential Boards of Advisors for Belmont Abbey College, Campbell University (where he was on the Founder’s Committee for its Law School and the Alumni Boards for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and its Law School. During his legal career, he was associated with at least five cases to the US Supreme Court (including the recent case involving the Yadkin River-Bed fight between Alcoa and North Carolina). He argued at least four cases in the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, and appeared in numerous Federal District Court and US Tax Court cases. His law practice focused on tax and business matters.

After his wife Vicki Fesperman suffered multiple strokes in 2001, he became a full time caregiver. The Browns remained in South Carolina close to her health care providers, until they relocated to Cheraw, then Pinehurst in 2012. While in Cheraw SC, he served on the Vestry of St. David’s Episcopal Church, completing his diocesan service as its Senior Warden. Brown was a very active member of Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Southern Pines, where he served as a member of its choir.

While in South Carolina, Brown served on the Board of Trustees of the Edisto Island Open Land Trust, negotiating conservation easements with preservation donors. This service included lobbying in Columbia for improvements to the SC land trust rules. Until his passing, Brown remained a consultant to landowners wanting to preserve in perpetuity from development threatened and endangered lands and waterways.

The draw of legislative service remained strong. Brown and three of his good friends, including Alex Webb, Esq., Jeff Smith, CPA (Stanly County) and Tom Adams (son of Stanly School Supt. Luther Adams) founded the NC Captive Insurance Association. He then became one of its Directors, its Vice Pres. for Governmental Affairs and its Sr. Registered Lobbyist in Raleigh, and successfully secured passage of the NC Captive Insurance Act (2013), with unanimous House and Senate approving votes. NC is now home to more than 700 licensed and regulated captive insurance companies. NCCIA recognized his stewardship and retirement from the captive insurance program at its recent Annual Conference (2019).

Other interests include Civil War reenactments. As a member of the 26th NC Rgt.

(reactivated), Brown participated in reenactments at Gettysburg, Appomattox Court House and Bentonville. His ancestor. Col. John R. Lane was the third and final commanding officer of the 26th NC Rgt. He was a strong supporter of the NC Museum of History. Brown was also proud of his membership in Rotary International, including the Albemarle, Daniel Island, Cheraw and Wadesboro Rotary Clubs. A Paul Harris Fellow, he was cited as Rotarian of the Year on three occasions.

Returning again to politics, Brown was recently appointed to the State Democratic Executive Committee, representing Moore County NC. Working closely with his good friend & Chairman Maurice Holland, he chaired several major party events in Pinehurst, including one honoring three Democratic members of the NC Supreme Court on October 26. Most recently, he was instrumental in organizing the non-profit entity Friends of Palmerville Cemetery, working with the Stanly Baptist Assn. Continuing his very active retirement, Brown headed the class group which organized the 60th AHS class reunion (1959); fellow high school graduates include Roger Smith, Wayne Spivey, Richard Kimrey, Brenda Gantt Way, Linda Doby Hall and the late Woody Durham.

Mr. Brown was survived by his wife Vicki S. Fesperman, originally from the Stallings family in Stanly County. Survivors include daughter Berit Brown Alworth (Cameron) and three grandsons – Jack, Duncan and Elliot (Durham NC): son Kirk Wales Brown (Durham NC); son Taylor Lane Benson Brown (Houston TX); daughter Sara Ashton Brown (Charlotte NC); sister Virginia Brown Ingram (Myrtle Beach, SC) and brother Charles Palmer Brown (Albemarle NC); and numerous cousins and nieces and nephews in the Carolinas, along with Janet Wales Brown (Durham NC), mother of Berit and Kirk Brown, and Sara Benson Collins (Greensboro NC), mother of Taylor and Ashton Brown.

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