Roy Brown

Roy Brown


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Roy Brown, the son of a Nigerian father and a English mother was born in Stoke on 20th December 1923. Eugene and John Brown had been studying in England when they decided to join the British Army during the First World War. John was killed and Eugene was badly wounded.

After the war Eugene Brown got married and had two sons, Roy and Douglas. Eugene eventually succumbed to his war injuries and the two boys were raised by their mother.

Roy Brown was a talented footballer and he was signed by Stoke City on leaving school at 14. The Second World War interrupted his football career although he did play for the club in the Football Regional League. He made his debut in 1941 and played a few games before joining the armed services.

The Football League did not resume until the 1946-47 season. Brown scored 14 goals in 74 games for Stoke City. In 1953 he was transferred to Watford in Division Three (South). Over the next few years he scored 40 goals in 142 games.


Roy Brown Bertrand Sr.

Roy Brown Bertrand Sr. was known as the "Waffle Wizard" and as a statesman among restaurateurs for his long career in the food trade in Waco.

Born on ranchland near Eddy in 1909 to Alabama-native Emma Lee Pouncey and Peter Gabriel Bertrand of Matagorda, Texas, the young Roy knew more about sheepshearing than hash-slinging in his youth. The family moved to Waco in 1920, when his father took a job as a night watchman for a textile mill.

But Roy had to step up to the plate when his father was injured on the job and could no longer work. To support the family, Roy found a job as a busboy at the downtown Elite Cafe in 1924 and later as a soda jerk in the Palace of Sweets, also in downtown Waco. Despite working nights, he graduated from Waco High School and entered 4C Business College.

In the years following high school, Bertrand continued to gain experience in the restaurant industry. In 1929, he got a job at the Gem Waffle Shop on South Sixth Street. Four years later, after President Franklin D. Roosevelt repealed Prohibition, Bertrand joined with brother-in-law Frank Nemmer to open the Night Owl, a honky-tonk roadhouse at Nineteenth Street and Lou Street (now Park Lake Drive). After seven months, he left to run the luncheonette counter at Woolworth's in downtown.

In July of 1936, Bertrand opened the B-K Coffee Shop at 125 North Sixth Street with business partner and one-time brother-in-law George Kouvas. Bertrand bought him out in 1941, and Kouvas started another coffee shop, the Victory, a block down the street. Known for its biscuits, Texas ribbon cane syrup, and a breakfast sausage that Bertrand ground himself using his own secret recipe, the B-K operated until the mid-1950s. He told the Waco News-Tribune in an interview that he served more than eight hundred biscuits and at least one hundred waffles each day.

In 1951, the entrepreneur opened a second location, Bertrand's Restaurant, at North 25th Street and West Waco Drive. Bertrand planned every detail of the new location for efficiency and ease of operation for his employees, also taking into consideration its prime location. Publications of the time touted that end of Waco Drive as "the new superhighway through Waco,” sure to bring many hungry customers through the café. In 1953, the newly chartered Northwest Waco Rotary Club began holding its weekly luncheon meetings at the popular spot.

Throughout all the busy years, Bertrand ensured that his restaurants remained a family business. He married Gladys Nell Nemmer in 1932 and the couple raised two sons, Roy B. Jr., known as Brown, and John David Bertrand. Brown went to work for his father in 1958 and started his own family. His daughter, Jennifer Bertrand Heinz, recalled donning a hostess's apron at a young age and learning customer service at her grandfather's knee.

Bertrand’s Restaurant continued to serve Wacoans faithfully until the mid-1970s, when Roy and Gladys retired.


Our People

Roy Brown

Roy is the second generation of the

Brown family to run Cattle Empire. He grew up in Southwest Kansas and worked on the family farm throughout his childhood and high school days. Roy and his wife Laura purchased what was then Cattle Empire #3. Roy was CEO of Cattle Empire from 1997until summer of 2018. His favorite parts of the job are leading the organization in a team management style and trading cattle and commodities. Outside of the office he loves to ride his Harley and play with his dog Migo.

Trista Brown

Trista Brown Priest is the third generation of the Brown family to work at Cattle Empire. She has worked in different capacities at the feedyard since she was 14 years old. She came back to Cattle Empire full-time as the Empire Repair Services manager following her graduation from Kansas State

University with her bachelor’s in business

management and marketing in 2008. She then returned to Kansas State to pursue

her MBA in agriculture economics and

finance and graduated in 2012. Following

her graduation she assumed the roll

of Vice President of Cattle Empire,

transitioned to Chief Strategy Officer in 2015, and is currently the Chief Executive Officer.

Benjamin Fuentes

Benjamin is the Yard Foreman for Cattle Empire and has been an employee since 2017. He grew up in Mexico working on a ranch with his father. Benjamin has 35 years experience in the beef industry and has worked in almost every position from feeding, to maintenance, to management. Additionally, Benjamin is BQA certified, and has licenses for Chemigation, fertilizer and pesticide application, and systems operator for drinking water. His favorite part of the job is working around cattle and says any day is a good day when the cattle are fed and treated well, and all employees go home with a smile on their face!

Tera Barnhardt

Dr. Tera has worked at Cattle Empire since 2017. She grew up in Satanta, KS on a diversified farming and ranching operation and is still involved with cattle. Tera’s family told her she could be anything she wanted to be and with that great family support, started at Kansas State University in 2007. By 2015 Tera had a Bachelor’s degree in Animal Science, a Masters degree in Biomedical Sciences and a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine.

Her favorite part of her job is having her boots on the ground every day, while practicing medicine in an industry that provides the world with a safe and nutritious protein!

Tim Murphy

Dr. Murphy has been working with Cattle Empire in various capacities since 2002. Tim grew up in northwest North Dakota on a commercial cow/calf and farming operation. He graduated from North Dakota State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Animal and Range Science and went on to get his Masters in Ruminant Nutrition. Tim then earned his doctorate degree in Ruminant Nutrition from Ohio State University. Tim’s aspiration as a consultant to Cattle Empire is to always enhance production levels and operational efficiencies.

Joe Matile

Joe grew up in Eastern Kansas on a farming and ranching operation. Joe helped his father with the cattle and crops until he moved to Western Kansas in 1975. He graduated from the Flint Hills Vocational School in Emporia, KS and wears several hats at Cattle Empire. Joe works closely with our customers, and leads cattle procurement and marketing. Joe also makes the weekly show list. His favorite part of his job is working with customers and helping market cattle.


The Trials of Eroy Brown

Last June, an administrator at the federal prison in Salters, South Carolina, must have been shocked when he opened the transfer file of a Texas inmate named Eroy Brown. For the past 26 years Brown has been serving a 90-year sentence in various federal prisons. He was sentenced for holding up a Waco convenience store in 1984. What was shocking was not the robbery, which netted Brown and two accomplices $12 and a couple of candy bars, but what happened three years before the robbery. In 1981, Eroy Brown drowned the warden of a Texas prison face down in a drainage ditch and shot and killed a prison farm manager in a struggle for control of the warden’s pistol. Federal prison officials immediately locked their new prisoner in solitary confinement as a dangerous murderer and a possible threat to prison officers.

It is unlikely that the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles placed the full story of those killings in Brown’s file, for that would have included the fact that Brown was acquitted of those killings by reason of self-defense. The full story is that in 1982, 23 of 24 jurors declared Brown innocent of murder in the drowning of Warden Wallace Pack. In 1984, another jury acquitted him of murdering farm manager Billy Max Moore. And the fuller story is that Brown has been kept in federal custody for a state crime because in 1984 Texas agreed to a civil rights settlement that keeps him from ever serving time in the Texas prison system—it might be too dangerous for him.

Brown’s parole attorney, Bill Habern, one of the lawyers who helped defend Brown’s murder charge, wrote a letter to the federal warden explaining that Brown was not the dangerous murderer he might seem to be, but the victim of two aggressive Texas prison officials. Habern thought Brown deserved the chance to live in the general prison population and hold a job.

If Brown were reviewed for parole on the basis of the crimes for which he was convicted, he would likely be out by now. Brown has served 26 years for a $12 robbery. But Texas will never parole him, Habern believes, because of the deaths of the two high-ranking prison officials. He thinks Brown is being held for a crime of which he was acquitted.

My new book—The Trials of Eroy Brown: The Murder Case that Shook the Texas Prison System—coming out this fall from University of Texas Press tells the whole story.

Saturday, April 4, 1981:
Ellis Prison

Only a handful of trusties and a couple of farm supervisors were working at the Ellis farm that Saturday morning.

One of them was Eroy Edward Brown, a Class I trusty who ran the tire shop for Billy Moore. He was 30 years old and had spent most of his young manhood in Texas prisons. His skin was so dark that his features disappeared in his prison mug shots. He was of medium height, with a small waist and strong arms and shoulders thickened by wrestling tractor tires all day.

After a long series of run-ins with the Waco juvenile authorities, Brown first entered the Texas Department of Corrections (TDC) in 1968, after pleading guilty to burglary. He was 17. He served three years, and was paroled to Waco, where he fitfully worked and acquired a heroin addiction. He returned to prison in 1974 for having burgled a Waco department store for $27 worth of men’s socks. He was nearing the end of his third sentence as an accomplice to the armed robbery of a Fort Worth motel. He had never been tried for his crimes. He always pleaded guilty.

Brown came to Ellis, the toughest prison in Texas, in 1977. When the trusty who ran the implement shed went home, Brown got his job. Brown filled ammonia tanks with fertilizer, fixed flats and changed tires on the farming implements and tractors. Eroy Brown had never succeeded in the free world, but at Ellis he did work that kept the plantation functioning. He was due for parole in three months, and he was looking forward to his freedom.

When Billy Max Moore came to run the farm in 1979, he made it clear that he was in charge. Brown didn’t think Moore was such a bad guy. But he came in stealing and hustling, getting oil changes and lube jobs for himself and his friends and stealing tires that he had Brown mark down on the farm inventory.

Brown had not met the new warden at Ellis, Wallace Pack. No one seemed to know much about him, except that he was rumored to have been tough on the mentally retarded convicts who were kept at the Wynne prison.

Brown had been an outside trusty three times in prison, and he knew how to do time. His motto was the convict’s motto: “I ain’t got nothing to do with nobody.” He kept his mouth shut.

But that morning he violated his convict’s code when he complained to his work partner in a woeful, loud voice: “After all I done for Billy Moore, I don’t see why I can’t get no furlough.” The tractor supervisor, a boss named Bill Adams, was standing in the back of the shop, listening. Adams didn’t like the tone of that phrase, “after all I done for Billy Moore,” and wanted to know what Brown was doing “running his head.”

In an earlier era, Adams might have let Brown’s comment go. Who would listen to a convict, anyway? But for the past several years, civil rights lawyers and FBI agents had been combing through the Texas prisons, talking to convicts about prison brutality. The TDC was in an uproar about civil rights.

Adams told Brown to get in the truck. Billy Moore could deal with Eroy Brown. By 1 p.m., Moore and Pack were dead, and Eroy Brown was stripped naked in a holding cell, a bullet wound in his foot, claiming “self-defense all the way.”

Sunday, April 5, 1981:
Estelle’s Bitterness

When the director of the Texas Department of Corrections, Jim Estelle, met with reporters the day after the deaths of Wallace Pack and Billy Moore, he was angry and defensive. The official story was that Moore had brought Eroy Brown near the bridge at Turkey Creek to smoke marijuana. Somehow Brown got a gun from the glove box of Pack’s car, scuffled with the two men, shot Moore and drowned Pack.

Reporters pressed Estelle about guns in prison. “Our written weapons policy is that they are not allowed inside the security perimeter,” Estelle said. He would not comment on an unofficial policy. “Security,” he said, “that’s nobody’s business but the people who need to know.”

It was almost as though the prison system was being blamed for the deaths. If inmates and not prison officials had been killed, the public outcry would have been greater, Estelle said.

“I guarantee you there aren’t going to be any marches on the courthouse,” he said, “any wailing or gnashing of teeth, any sackcloth and ashes over this.”

The source of Estelle’s bitterness was a federal judge with the improbable name of William Wayne Justice. For the previous seven years Justice and Estelle had been embroiled in what turned out to be one of the longest-running prison civil rights cases in the history of federal jurisprudence: Ruiz v. Estelle, or more simply, Ruiz.

David Ruiz was an armed robber who had filed a 15-page, handwritten petition in Justice’s court charging the TDC with cruel and unusual punishment. In 1974, Justice consolidated Ruiz’s petition with several inmate writs, recruited a civil rights attorney from the NAACP and got the Department of Justice involved. Next came a trial before Judge Justice.

The TDC was not used to outside interference. It had long enjoyed a reputation as the best-run prison system in the country: cheap, clean and orderly, with few escapes and little violence. The state fought Ruiz’s pretrial investigation to the U. S. Supreme Court and lost. After four years of delays, in October 1978, the trial began, with demonstrators picketing outside the courthouse. One of their signs read, “Prisons are concentration camps for the poor.” Another said: “W.J. Estelle is a slave master.”

Scheduled to last three months, the trial lasted nearly a year as the state, expecting to lose, conducted prolonged cross-examinations of both convict witnesses and prison officials. The core issues were overcrowding, inadequate medical care, lack of safe working conditions, and brutality by TDC officials and their inmate snitches and enforcers, the building tenders.

The case involved 349 witnesses, hundreds of exhibits and thousands of pages of documents. To demonstrate the problem of overcrowding, the plaintiffs built a replica of a typical Texas prison cell, five feet wide and nine feet deep, and crammed three to five court officials inside.

Justice took a year to study the record and write his opinion, which he issued in December 1980, a little more than three months before the deaths at Turkey Creek. In more than 200 pages, Justice described the suspicious deaths and gruesome stories of Texas prison life. In one, a convict whose arms had been cut off in a threshing machine had been left alone to be raped by another inmate. A paralyzed inmate, deprived of his wheelchair by officials, was forced to drag himself on the ground for hours. Officials allowed a building tender to rape and torture an inmate by forcing him to stand in a toilet while he shocked him with wires strung from the ceiling light.

“Nor is the brutality the sole province of a few low-level security officers,” Justice wrote. “Many vicious incidents of abuse implicate high-ranking TDC officials.”

One newspaper reporter compared Justice’s opinion to Dostoevsky, who had famously written: “The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.” Reporters found Estelle’s reaction to Justice’s opinion peculiar and quotable. He denounced it for its literary merit.

“It read like a cheap dime novel,” Estelle said. “I think he overused the adjective aspect of his dictionary. It did not read like a legal opinion and did not even make interesting reading as far as I’m concerned.”

Now Estelle had lost the warden of Ellis prison and his farm manager. It might have seemed to Estelle that the Ruiz decision had emboldened Eroy Brown. At least a dozen cases of questionable inmate deaths had been brought up during the trial and three inmate witnesses died during it. For the past three years, the prisons had been restless with work stoppages and protests. Inmate-against-inmate violence had increased. The state had resolutely defended the prison system, denying every charge brought against it, especially those for brutality by prison officials. It was time for someone to stand up for prison officials.

“We’ve had five employees killed in the last nine years and we haven’t had an execution since 1964,” Estelle told reporters.

“If there was ever any reservation in my mind [about the death penalty], the closer it gets to home the less I have. I wouldn’t want to be the next person who tried to assault the next warden.”

Bill Habern was getting bored with law when Eroy Brown’s case blazed into the headlines. He had a small practice in parole law and he had worked in prisons. He knew that prison officials were forbidden to take handguns near convicts. He suspected that Brown might have a good case for self-defense.

In a little more than two months, Habern put together a major defense team for Eroy Brown. He recruited state Representative Craig Washington as first chair, a star courtroom performer who could shred a witness with relentless questioning and move a jury to tears in a closing argument. He had former prosecutor Tim Sloan, who knew the most experienced forensics experts in Texas, who could take shorthand notes of everything that happened, do first-rate legal research and hand-write motions on the spur of the moment. Habern could consult with every major defense and civil rights lawyer in Texas, and he had deep connections among prison inmates. At his back he had the long shadow of public doubt the Ruiz case had cast on Texas prisons.

The First Trial, Galveston,
February–March 1982:

Five days after the trial started, Craig Washington laid out his theory of the case. It had nothing to do with a violent inmate trying to escape and everything to do with a convict who was being put in his place. Eroy Brown was in fear of being thrown in the river because he had threatened to expose the thefts of “Master Moore,” Washington told the jury. “The defense,” he said, “is self-defense.”

“I think the evidence will show that Moore and Adams were stealing tires,” Washington said. “Eroy mounted tires on free-world vehicles.”

“Eroy was complaining about his failure to obtain a furlough. He thought he had worked harder than anyone else, and he [Moore] wouldn’t go to bat for him.” “Adams misconstrued a remark made by Eroy,” Washington said, and “he took it as a threat to snitch on them.” Pack’s response, Washington said, was threatening: “We’ll see if you can talk at the bottom of the Trinity River… .”

Then Washington put Eroy Brown on the stand.

Moore radioed for Pack to drive to a crossroads near Turkey Creek and meet him. Brown knew that three trusties were watching from a farm building 100 yards away. The following description is drawn from Brown’s testimony.

Mr. Moore he pushed me around to the side of the car, and said, “Get your ass up here, nigger. Get your ass up here against this car. You get your nigger ass right up here against this car.”

I put my hands on the car spread-eagle like, with my arms on top of the car. Then he kicked me outward. I kept on leaning, looking back toward the trunk of the car.

I had talked almost in a monotone, kind of low. Then I changed my tone of voice. I started talking loud so I could make Kelley and them hear what was going on. “You can’t do me any kind of way. People will come down and see about me.”

Mr. Moore said, “Nigger, you ain’t going to be able to tell a goddamn thing on me. You ain’t going to tell shit on me.”

Warden Pack was at the back by the trunk. He let the trunk down and he come around and he had this pistol in his hand and he slapped it up. He closed the cylinder up. He said, “Billy, get the handcuffs out of the glove box.”

Mr. Moore was keeping me up against the car, and he opened the front door, and he hit the button on the glove box, and he got the handcuffs out of there. He took my left hand snapped the cuff on.

Mr. Moore said, “Nigger you ain’t going to be able to tell no one what goes on here. We still do away with niggers like you down here.”

He backhanded me and he had me leaning up against the car and was pushing me against the car. I started talking loud again. I started telling him that my people would call the Justice Department. There were people who cared about me, and I would tell the Justice Department or someone would tell the Justice Department.

Mr. Pack come up to my left side and then he sticks the gun up to my head, right up to my temple. Mr. Moore done got one handcuff on me right there. And he was fixing to get the other one on.

I looked at him and I said, “Well, somebody is going to tell somebody about what is going on here. It ain’t nobody going to do away with me.”

Then he cocked it. He cocked the gun.

He said, “I told you to shut your ass up, boy. I will splatter your brains all over this street right here.”

If he hadn’t cocked the gun I might have thought that he was just trying to scare me, I might not have done anything. I thought he was going to kill me.

I tried to lean back to get out of range of the gun. He had the gun sticking in my face. I tried to lean back but Mr. Moore pushed me back up against the car. I turned around and I took my other hand, my right hand, and knocked the gun down and it went off. The bullet went straight down and hit my right foot. All three of us jumped from the impact of the sound of the gun.

Mr. Moore was pulling on this one handcuff and Warden Pack, he was trying to come again with the pistol in his hand. I took my hand and knocked it to the side that time. It went off, still in his hand. Major Moore was behind me. He was trying to put the handcuff on my hand. When the gun went off, he let go of my arm, and he just held the handcuff.

Warden Pack was fixing to try to bring the gun back up again, and I grabbed hold on it. I finally got hold of the barrel and continued to bend and we both had a hold of it and I twisted it out of his hand and the gun fell to the ground between me and Warden Pack. Then we both grabbed at it. Warden Pack starts grabbing after the gun, reaching with both hands. The major was pulling on the handcuff and he was trying to pull me back. I was batting at Warden Pack’s hands. We were reaching for the gun and after two or three minutes I finally got hold of it and I spun around and pointed it toward [Billy Moore].

I kept backing and I told them, “Don’t come at me. You ain’t taking me to no bottoms. You ain’t going to drown me in no bottom.”

I lost my balance and I fell. I scoot down, and both of them dived at me. Major Moore had a piece of the handle of the gun, Warden Pack had a hand on the gun, and my hand was on the gun too. They dives at me and I am scooting back and the gun went off, bam, bam.

The gun went off twice, and Major Moore fell back this way, which is the way he fell back towards the car. Warden Pack backed off and run towards the fence on the bridge. Then I didn’t see him no more. I just sat down. I had the gun sitting on my right-hand side. I pulled my britches leg up and was trying to look at my foot. My foot was hurting and my leg was hurting all up and down my leg where the bullet went into my foot. I tried to stand up and I walked over toward the end of the bridge. I couldn’t stand up very good, and hopped around and looked on the side of the bridge. I couldn’t see him. I called him and I said, “Warden Pack, Mr. Moore is shot up here. I am shot. Please get us to the building.”

He hollered back, “Nigger, you are going to get to the building all right.”

After wrestling with Pack for the gun, Brown testified, he threw it in Turkey Creek. Pack tried to drown him once but didn’t succeed. The two men wrestled again.

He reached over and grabbed me and I fell over. I grabbed him and I twisted him. We kept turning over and over and he was trying to get on top of me and I was trying to get on top of him.

We rolled over and we ended up in the drainage ditch. I hit the water first. I am face down in the mud. He’s on top of me.

I got up on my knees and scooted between his legs. I pulled his leg out and I fell on top. I jumped on him and laid on him. I didn’t push his head. I just jumped and had my hands across him. And I just laid on him. I laid down there for a few minutes.

I laid on him and laid on him. I don’t know how long I laid on him. He stopped moving.

I was more or less resting. I was holding him. I was trying to keep—he kept on. He kept on wanting to fight. He kept on. Man, I begged and I pleaded with him. He just kept on.

Craig Washington asked: “If he hadn’t done those things to you, Eroy, would you have done those things to him?” Eroy was weeping when he said the following words and the court took a recess.

No sir, he just kept on wanting to fight. He just kept on. He just kept on. He just kept on wanting to fight.

Washington’s Final Argument

Washington urged the jurors to put themselves in Eroy Brown’s place, to see the world through the eyes of a convict.

Using the defense table to represent Pack’s car, Washington walked the jury back through the physical evidence. He pointed out that the one slide the prosecutors had shown of the view from the garden shed showed precious little. The two inmate witnesses, Levi Duson and James Soloman, [who testified against Brown] were 100 yards away, their view of Pack’s car blocked by the truck. Washington walked around the defense table, showing the jurors how impossible it was for Soloman and Duson to have seen what they said they saw, and they didn’t care what happened to Brown when they told their lies.

“Soloman and Duson would try anything to get out of prison,” Washington said, “even ride on his life.”

If Brown truly had control of the gun, as Duson and Soloman said he did, and was full of murderous intent, why didn’t he just shoot Pack?

“What fool would provoke and be difficult when the other guy has the gun?” Washington asked. “They are playing a game with another man’s life.”

The true meaning of what happened, Washington said, was that Moore and Pack were worried that Brown had threatened to expose Moore’s thefts of prison tires. In another era, the threat of a convict to talk to the outside world was not likely to worry a warden or a farm major. But in the Ruiz era, convicts were being listened to. That was why Pack had pulled a gun on Brown.

“They would have you believe a warden rides around on a prison farm with a gun lying out on the seat,” Washington said. “You know that’s not true.”

“They had no business with that gun out there. They had that gun for only one reason: Stop that Old Thing from running his head.”

Once Moore had fastened the handcuffs on Brown’s left wrist, he was like a bird in a cage, Washington said. As Moore was about to snap the cuffs on Brown’s other wrist, Brown had to decide what to do.

“He had to decide whether he was going to live or die,” Washington said. “He had 15 seconds to decide before that second handcuff went on. What do you do? A gun to your head and one handcuff on?”

“His struggle was consistent with human nature,” he said. “Everyone wants to live. No one wants to die. It was like being at the end of your rope.” The state’s version of events was based on lies, Washington said, and, as he repeated the phrase again and again in his final argument: “No lie can live forever.”

The newspaper reporters didn’t pick up on the source of that expression, but it was surely well known to the black spectators who crowded the courtroom in support of Eroy Brown. It came from Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech on the capitol steps in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1965. King said: “I come to say to you this afternoon, however difficult the moment, however frustrating the hour, it will not be long, because ‘truth crushed to earth will rise again.’ How long? Not long, because ‘no lie can live forever.’ How long? Not long, because ‘you shall reap what you sow.’ How long? Not long, because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

Michael Berryhill is chair of the journalism department at Texas Southern University. He lives in Houston.


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Roy Brown – our kooky cook Cooky from WGN-TV's Bozo the Clown TV show

Roy Thomas Brown (July 8, 1932 -€“ January 22, 2001), the man behind Cooky the Cook for 25 years on “Bozo’s Circus” and “The Bozo Show” on WGN-TV. He passed away on January 22, 2001, in his adopted hometown of Chicago due to a heart ailment. He was 68 years old. Inducted into the Clown Hall of Fame in 1993, Roy Brown created the lovable character “Cooky” for the Bozo Show. In 1992, he received an Emmy award for his portrayal. He first joined the show as a writer, but in 1969 joined the cast. “Cooky” was born after Brown experimented with 60 different clown characters. Brown’s character originated from a cook who was responsible for cooking horrible circus meals. He developed the make-up and voice for the character as well as the costume.

Roy Brown first auditioned for the role on “Bozo’s Circus” in 1968. Producer Don Sandburg, who also portrayed Sandy the Tramp, announced that he was leaving the show. Excited by the opportunity, Brown consulted with Sandburg. He suggested that Roy create a new clown character and perform this character at the audition. With only three days until the audition, Brown experimented with 60 different clown characters. Brown said the idea for Cooky originated from an occasional on-air dialogue between Bob “Bozo” Bell and Ray “Oliver O. Oliver” Rayner about the horrible circus food. Brown developed a character who was responsible for cooking the wretched circus meals.

Roy Brown’s personal life

Roy Thomas Brown, the father of four sons, was born in Tucson, Arizona on July 8, 1932, but his roots were in Chicago. His mother, an artist, encouraged her young son to take advantage of all her art materials, which she kept in a studio in her home. Although his mother offered guidance and instruction, it was Roy’s choice to pursue a career as a commercial artist specializing in cartooning. At the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts, Brown studied fine art painting and cartooning.

Roy Brown at WGN

Before graduating, he auditioned for the “Garfield Goose and Friend” show. Frazier Thomas, the character’s creator and host of the show, awarded Brown the job of graphic artist on the program’s “Magic Drawing Board” in 1952. He designed and drew all of the program’s openings and closings, publicity, Garfield Goose birthday cards and other paraphernalia. He also created and painted art boards that illustrated Garfield Goose’s adventures away from the castle.

As the show’s puppeteer, Brown not only brought life to the Garfield Goose puppet, he designed and constructed Romberg Rabbit, MacIntosh Mouse, Chris (Christmas) Goose and Beauregard Burnside III. He also developed puppets for WGN-TV’s “The Blue Fairy,” “Bugs Bunny and Friends,” “Dick Tracy,” “Paddleboat” and “Treetop House.” In 1965, he created a puppet version and voice characterization of the Chicago Tribune’s Cuddly Dudley for the “Ray Rayner and His Friends” show, which carried over to “The Bozo Show” in 1981.

Roy Brown received a Chicago/Midwest Emmy award for his portrayal of Cooky on “The Bozo Show” in 1992. In 1993, he was inducted into the International Clown Hall of Fame as well as the Chicago Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences’ “Silver Circle” for over 40 years of distinguished service in the television industry.

Upon his retirement in 1994 and while reflecting on his years at WGN-TV, Roy Brown commented, “I am the luckiest guy in the world to have worked at a job I loved and I’m going to miss it dearly.” Roy Brown made his last public appearance as Cooky on October 25, 2000 during a taping of “The Bozo Super Sunday Show.”

All photographs and much information on this page are courtesy WGN-TV’s “Bozo Timeline” – our thanks to them!


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A Member of the Little Rock Nine Discusses Her Struggle to Attend Central High

Fifteen year-old Minnijean Brown thought her new high school would allow her to become the best person she could be. She envisioned making friends, going to dances and singing in the chorus.

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But, her fantasy quickly evaporated. As one of the first nine African-American students to attend Little Rock Central High School in 1957, she was taunted, ridiculed and physically battered. On her first day, she faced the horror of the Arkansas National Guard blocking her entrance to the building and the terror of an angry, white mob encircling the school.

Recently, the 74-year-old activist, teacher and social worker donated more than 20 personal items to the National Museum of American History to help tell the story of the Little Rock Nine—as she and her fellow African-American students at Central High came to be known.

Nearly 60 years ago, these teenagers, none of who were particularly political, and all of whom were looking for wider opportunities, were thrust into the crucible of the burgeoning Civil Rights Movement in one of the most dangerous and dramatic school desegregation efforts in the country.

“At a certain point, I didn’t know if I would be alive to graduate from high school, or be stark, raving insane, or deeply wounded, “ says Trickey.  

Several of Trickey’s school items, including a notice of suspension and the dress she designed for her high school graduation, are now on display in the “American Stories” gallery at the museum. Her graduation gown, a simple, white, swing dress with a flared skirt, and a strapless bodice under a sheer, flower-embroidered overlay, is a testament to her determination to get her high school diploma. She attended three schools in as many years, was expelled from Central High and ultimately had to leave Little Rock and her family to finish high school.

One of her greatest pleasures, says Trickey, came in 2014 when she was asked to speak at an award ceremony for Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girls education advocate who survived a Taliban assassination attempt. (Ricky Fitchett/ZUMA Press/Corbis)

Minnijean was the eldest of four children born to Willie Brown, a mason and landscaping contractor, and his wife, Imogene, a nurse’s aid, seamstress and homemaker. A native of Little Rock, she attended segregated schools and started senior high school as a 10th grader in 1956 at the newly opened Horace Mann School for African-Americans. It was across town from where she lived and offered no bus service.

In the wake of the landmark 1954 Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education that banned racial segregation in public schools, representatives from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) searched for students who would enroll in previously all-white schools throughout the south. Minnijean heard an announcement on the school intercom about enrolling at Central and decided to sign up.  

Although about 80 African-American students had been approved by the Little Rock School Board to transfer to Central the following year, the number dwindled to 10 after the students were told they couldn't participate in extracurricular activities, their parents were in danger of losing their jobs, and there was a looming threat of violence. The parents of a tenth student, Jane Hill, decided not to allow their daughter to return after the mob scene on the first day. 

According to Trickey, her real motivation for attending Central was that it was nine blocks from her house and she and her two best friends, Melba Pattillo and Thelma Mothershed would be able to walk there.

Along with her graduation dress, Trickey has also donated a program from her high school commencement ceremony. (NMAH)

“The nine of us were not especially political,” she says. “We thought, we can walk to Central, it’s a huge, beautiful school, this is gonna be great,” she remembers. 

“I really thought that if we went to school together, the white kids are going to be like me, curious and thoughtful, and we can just cut all this segregation stuff out,” she recalls. Unfortunately, she was wrong.

Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus called in the National Guard to keep the African-American students from entering Central. When the nine students did get into the building a few weeks later, a full-scale riot broke out and they had to escape in speeding police cars. They weren’t able to enroll until two days later when President Dwight D. Eisenhower sent in 1,200 paratroopers from the 101st Airborne Division. With bayonets fixed, the soldiers escorted the students, single file, into the school and disbursed the jeering protestors.

Although troops remained at Central High School throughout the school year, the Little Rock Nine were subjected to verbal and physical assaults on a daily basis. The African-American students were isolated and never placed in classes with each other, so they couldn’t corroborate their torment. On three separate occasions, Minnijean had cafeteria food spilled on her, but none of her white abusers ever seemed to get punished.

In December 1957, she dropped her chili-laden lunch tray on the heads of two boys in the cafeteria who were taunting and knocking into her. She was suspended for six days. That school notice is now part of the Smithsonian collection along with a heartfelt note by her parents documenting all the abuse that their daughter had endured leading up to the incident. Then in February 1958, Trickey verbally responded to some jeering girls who had hit her in the head with a purse. That retaliation caused Trickey to be expelled from Central High.

“I had a sense of failure that lasted for decades over that,” says Trickey.  After she left Central, white students held printed signs that said, “One down…eight to go.”

Following her mid-year dismissal, Trickey was invited to New York City to live in the home of Drs. Kenneth and Mamie Clark, African-American psychologists who had conducted pioneering research that exposed the negative effects of segregation on African-American children. Their now famous “doll tests,” were part of the documentation used by the NAACP to argue the Brown v. Board of Education case.

While living with the Clarks, Trickey attended the New Lincoln School, a progressive, experimental K-12 school that focused on the arts, to finish out her 11th-   and 12th-grade years.

“I was very, very grateful for the gift that I’d been given,” she says. “My classmates at New Lincoln allowed me to be the girl that I should have been, and allowed me to do all the things I thought I might do at Central.”

At the end of her stay, the Clarks wanted to give her a gift and settled on a graduation dress. Trickey made some sketches and Mamie Clark took the design to her dressmaker.

“It was a perfect fit, and I felt perfectly beautiful in it,” Trickey remembers. “Many New York papers covered the graduation, and there was a photo of me with my shoulders up and I have this big smile, and I have this real feeling of relief,” she says. Along with her graduation dress, Trickey has also donated a program from this commencement ceremony.

Trickey went on to attend Southern Illinois University and majored in journalism. In 1967, she married Roy Trickey, a fisheries biologist, and they started a family, which eventually included six children. They moved to Canada to protest the Vietnam War, and she earned both a bachelors and masters degree in social work. Later in her career, she returned to the United States and served in the Clinton administration as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Workforce Diversity at the Department of the Interior. Now, she works as an activist on behalf of peacemaking, youth leadership, the environment and many other social justice issues.

According to her daughter Spirit Trickey, it took nearly 30 years before Trickey revealed to her children the full extent of her role as a foot soldier in the Civil Rights movement.

“She felt like she didn’t have the context to put it in. The nation had not acknowledged it, so it was very difficult to explain,” says Spirit, a former Park Ranger and now a museum professional. Eventually, with the airing of documentaries like PBS’s “Eyes on the Prize” in 1987, and the 1994 publication of Warriors Don’t Cry, a book by Trickey’s friend Melba Pattillo Beals, Spirit and her siblings began to understand what their mother had gone through.

Also, the Little Rock Nine started to be recognized for their contribution to desegregation. In 1996, seven of them appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show and reconciled with some of the white students who had tormented them. A year later and 40 years after the original crisis, then-President Bill Clinton symbolically held the door open at Central High for the Nine. Clinton also awarded each of them the Congressional Gold Medal in 1999. Individual statutes of the Little Rock Nine were placed on the grounds of the Arkansas Capitol in 2005. They and their families were all invited to the first inauguration of President Barack Obama in 2008.

One of her greatest pleasures, says Trickey, came in 2014 when she was asked to speak at an award ceremony for Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girls education advocate who survived a Taliban assassination attempt. As Trickey was being introduced at the Philadelphia Liberty Medal ceremony, the speaker compared Malala’s experiences with that of the Little Rock Nine.

“When I met that wonderful young woman, I saw myself, and it was so great to be able to make the link between her treatment and ours,” said Trickey. “I now tell youth audiences, I was a Malala.”

Trickey believes that she will be trying to come to terms with the events of her high school years for the rest of her life. “My research, my understanding continues to unfold.”

One truth that she now understands is that many of her white classmates had been taught to hate. “We couldn’t expect the white kids at Central High to go against what they had learned their whole lives,” she says.

Through the 1999 book Bitters in the Honey by Beth Roy, Trickey was able to hear the perspective of white students who resisted segregation. Roy conducted oral histories with white alumni 40 years afterwards to explore the crisis at Central High. Trickey discovered that she in particular angered white classmates because they said, “She walked the halls of Central like she belonged there.”

Trickey also realizes now that she may have been singled out for harsher treatment. At an awards ceremony in 2009, she was speaking with Jefferson Thomas, one of the Nine, when he suddenly turned to her and said, “You know, you were the target.”

“We were all targets,” she laughed at him dismissively.

“No, you were the target, and when you left, I was the target,” he revealed. 

Last Spring, Trickey delivered her Little Rock Nine objects to the Smithsonian in what her daughter termed a “sacred ceremony.” John Gray, the director of the National Museum of American History, welcomed her and had a warm, gracious conversation and interview that was videotaped. Curators and star-struck interns filled the room to hear Trickey’s oral history.

She described the afternoon as a day that she will never forget because the desegregation pioneer was assured that her story and that of the Little Rock Nine would be preserved for future generations not as African-American History but as American History.


Roy Brown

Roy Brown has been called by those who have known him for years, a creative engineering genius.

The fact is, he is not an engineer, but an electrician. Everything he knows about auto air conditioning systems and that’s considerable he’s learnt the hard way, all by himself. In his native England, Roy was an electrician in the railways. When he moved to Australia he worked as maintenance electrician at a Sydney hospital.

Around 1980, Roy began with AMC in Sydney. In the years when the design and manufacture of aftermarket systems was a lucrative pursuit for innovative engineering companies, Roy Brown was in there, solving problems and designing complex units to fit ambulances, Land Rovers and other special vehicles.

For as long as anyone has known him Roy has worked at AMC Holdings Pty Ltd. In the heyday of aftermarket manufacture, the company held major contracts with OEMs including Mazda. It was Roy that held all these together, first as designer, then as manufacturer, then as manager and finally as salesman.

His whole life has been in the design of air conditioning systems for all manner of vehicles. In doing so, he became a modest expert and around the industry he earned great respect and friendships with some of the major wholesalers and suppliers in the country.

In later years, he was designing special systems for back hoes and bob cats which would act as dust inhibitors as well as cooling systems. At AMC, Roy was production manager and then, about ten years ago, Roy and a co-worker Barbara Beech, the Sales Manager, were asked by management to take over and rule jointly. They had no management experience but between them the company survived. Barbara took early retirement, leaving Roy to manage on his own.

He was highly regarded by his fellow employees and he is well known for treating everyone right. They, of course, saw him as a mad professor, especially when he was flying around on a fork lift.

He was quite accident prone, having fallen from the mezzanine floor when sober. He has stuck his fingers into many machines over the years, almost severing a few on the way. He was rushed to hospital more than once to be stitched together again and turning up for work the next day like nothing had happened.

Tonight, the eye patch is just another normal episode in Roy’s life, the result of a wild okkey strap.

Roy, your many friends in the industry believe you have deserved an award like this for years. We are very pleased to be able to do tonight and we wish you well for the future.


Little Known Black History Fact: Lee Roy Young, Jr.

Lee Roy Young Jr. grew up in Texas hoping to join the elite Rangers Division of the Texas Department of Public Safety. Young’s boyhood dream came true on this day in 1988 when he was sworn in as a Texas Ranger.

Young was born January 8, 1947 in Del Rio, Texas. Raised by his grandparents in nearby Bracketville, he returned to Del Rio and graduated from high school in 1966. Young joined the Navy and served until 1970 while working as an electrician. He then graduated junior college and was attending Sam Houston State University when decided to join the Department of Public Safety. He was hired by the department in 1973.

The young officer took to the job and worked in several capacities including narcotics, kidnapping and forgery. He was also a criminal intelligence investigator in San Antonio and respected by his peers as an avid student of criminal justice. While at DPS, Young earned his bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Texas at Austin.

Young applied for the Rangers job for three years straight before he was finally selected. In a 2008 interview, Young said he adapted to the grueling training and study he underwent for the job fairly easily. Although he was the only Black Ranger for several years, Young says he was never treated any differently.

That distinction of being the first Black Ranger meant very little to Young, as he hoped to inspire people simply by his aptitude for the job. During his appointment, several news outlets reached out to Young but he didn’t want a fuss made over the fact that he was Black. He said he was glad to serve as a role model but didn’t want race to define the conversation.

The Ranger hung up his gun and badge in 2003 and settled in McKinney, Texas with his wife, Mary. The couple raised two grown children together.


Watch the video: Roy chubby brown 50 Shades of Brown 2019