A Diamond in the Rough

Have you ever met someone, that the two of you have lived pretty much the same life but in a different skin? Donald Brown, banker at Boston Private Bank and Trust, is that person when compared to my life; our lives mirror each other. I met Donald during his commute into Boston. Our conversations ran the gamut from religion to world affairs. What struck me the most about him was not how he asked questions but the way he answered them.

Donald Brown was born in New York City and raised in Norwalk, Connecticut. The importance of education was instilled by his parents, both are college educated. Religion was instilled in him at an early age as well. And the religion of choice was the Methodist church. The mission of the Methodist religion is to place all one’s life on Christian living. His studies have taken him to many places including studying in England.

Donald spoke the word “persistence” many times throughout our conversations. At one time in his life, he was asked not to return to the University of New Hampshire due to excessive living, drinking, and drugs. Having support from his family and church, he was able to start a bridge. This bridge, like many of us have had to build, led to a better life. By starting this bridge, he was able to put one foot forward at a time and correct his problems.

Today, Donald is married with three children, a minister with his church, and involved in many activities throughout the North Shore of Massachusetts.

Our conversation for this interview took place over the phone and by text message.

We at Spare Change News have a mission to seek the betterment of the homeless. Have you done any work with this cause?

There was a homeless man who came to our church and I helped him find employment and an apartment. Currently, I am trying to assist a carpenter find a place to live. His landlord just gave him a 60 day notice.

What have your parents instilled in you to make you a better person?

I received from Dad the idea that one of the most important aspects of life is persistence. To me, he always was an amazing man. From my mother, I received her gift of poise. She did not sell herself short. When using our power for good, small gestures go a long way.

I have to ask, your wife meeting you when you are the life of the party and destined to fall. What did she see in you that made her decide to marry you and spend the rest of her life with you? (To this, Donald let his wife answer)

I feel he is a fun and loving man. He always wanted to try new things. He was social but perhaps too much of a lush. But he held strong convictions.

I feel the need to get more from Donald regarding his personality. I asked his children, “What do you see when you look at your father knowing the ups and downs life has delivered him?” Before his children answer, he reminds them, “Remember, you are very much in control of your life.”

Dad is a super-dad. [He] takes the train every day into the city and raised four (relatively) normal boys. He sacrificed a ton to make it all work. I don’t know how he found the time but he coached all four of us in sports growing up. He is a deeply devout Christian and has more “good” in his core than anyone I know. He will do what’s right 10 times out of 10, which has made my job at being a dad easy. I just think to myself, “What would my dad do?” and I know it’s the right thing for Bodie, my son. I couldn’t be luckier to having him as my dad. He is the ideal dad, role-model, and now granddad!

What outreach does you and your church do to give support and comfort to many in Massachusetts that have been inflicted by the many cruel ways of this world?

Our church hosts a supper every Wednesday night. One of the founders of our program once said, “There by the grace of God, I go.” Over the years , that statement moved from my head to my heart.

Donald Brown does not stand out in a crowd, does not yell and scream to get himself noticed, he just does what he does. His actions are driven by what has been instilled by his church and his family. This is what makes Donald Brown a diamond in the rough.

Gary Gilreath is writer and vendor for Spare Change News who sells papers behind Boston City Hall.






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