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Tyler Bennett Brown

Died: July 17, 2010

Tyler was born in Shaker Heights, OH on April 28, 1944. His family lived in New York and then Connecticut, before moving to Kittery, Maine when he was 10. Tyler and his older brother Greg spent their summers working on a farm near their home, and both picked up a love of machinery and life in the open air. After four years at Berwick Academy, he graduated as Valedictorian and became the first from the school to be accepted at Yale. Tyler majored in English at Yale and was an intramural rower and good friend to many in Morse College.

Upon graduating from Yale, Tyler took his mechanical talents to the Peace Corps, assigned to the Republic of Chad as an agriculturalist. He soon realized that the essential local need was for decent sources of clean water. He designed a well-digging system for communities in the sub Saharan-desert, extending his stay to complete a series of wells for the region. It was on one of his excursions that he met his future wife, Christina See, a Peace Corps nurse serving in Ft. Lamy. They were married in June, 1969, settling in New Haven, where Tyler entered the Yale School of Public Health, receiving his Master’s Degree in 1971.

He became a leader in the emerging movement toward Health Maintenance Organizations, as the part of the management team of the original HMO founded in New Haven: the Community Health Care Plan at Long Wharf. His first son Justin was born in March of 1972. However, Tyler kept his strong interest in public health issues in developing countries, moving his family to Curacao in the Netherlands Antilles to work with Kaiser Permanente International to reorganize the Public Health Department there. Second son Greg arrived in March of 1975. After several years in that position, he returned home to settle in Hamden.

Tyler spent the next several years as one of the developers of another new HMO in Bridgeport, CT before deciding that urban life was too confining for him. So in 1980 he took the giant step of moving to his family’s 180-year old farmhouse on Bow Lake in Strafford, NH. He was hired as the director of the New Hampshire Home Care Association, coordinating services for elderly and chronic care patients in that state.

But Tyler was truly happiest as a mechanic and woodsman, out on his tractor in the back 40, cutting and splitting wood, camping in the woods with friends, and raising his two wonderful boys. This was not to say that life was always easy for Tyler. Raised as the second son of two alcoholic parents, he became involved in an organization for Adult Children of Alcoholics and eventually helped to found a group of his peers called Granite Men of New Hampshire.

Tragically, in 1996 Tyler was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease when he was 52 years of age. This disease eventually confined him to a wheel chair and bed. He died peacefully at home on July 17th of 2010, surrounded by his family and friends.

His beloved wife Christina summed him best when she said: “Tyler was the kindest, sweetest, most hard-working, funniest and surely the most courageous person I have ever known.” I think all who knew him well would agree with her tribute.

— Joe Freeman