Rehoboth Beach officials celebrated Arbor Day in October by paying tribute to longtime building maintenance supervisor John Brown.
A crape myrtle was placed in Silver Lake Park in Brown’s honor, and the city also plans to place at a plaque at the foot of the tree. Brown’s friend, Greg Gause, selected the location and the tree.
Priscilla Smith, chairwoman of the Parks and Shade Tree Commission, said Brown planted many of the trees in the park, and he loved crape myrtles.
Brown, who died in December 2007 at the age of 89, served as the city’s fire chief and as the building maintenance supervisor.
Brown was also a veteran of World War II, and Mayor Sam Cooper said he remembers Brown's tales about his service in a tank division during the war.
Brown’s brother-in-law, Woody Dennis, said Brown served at Normandy and at the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium. He said Brown had the distinction of serving under the legendary Gen. George S. Patton.
“He knew Patton probably a little closer than he wanted to.” Dennis said. One day, he said, Patton was doing inspections and one of his famous ivory-handled pistols rubbed up against Brown’s right hand.
"He said he was never going to wash that hand again,” Dennis said.
Dennis said Brown did not like to talk about his service, but Dennis is also a veteran, so the two would often share stories about their days serving overseas.
Dennis, and his wife, Barbara, Brown’s sister, and their daughter Dawn Crouch, planted the tree, donated by Sposato Landscape.