Martin Shallenberger Brown, 81, died Aug. 11, 2019 following a three-year battle with cancer. Born May 27, 1938 in Louisville, Kentucky, he was the second of four children of Sara “Sally” Shallenberger Brown, an ardent conservationist, and W. L. Lyons Brown, chairman of Brown-Forman Corporation. After attending Louisville public schools and Culver Military Academy in Indiana, Martin graduated in 1960 from the University of Virginia. In 1962, he received an MBA from Columbia University in New York City and married Elizabeth “Betty” Moorhead, a family friend since childhood. Following their wedding, the Browns moved near Lynchburg, Tennessee, where Martin worked at the Jack Daniel’s Distillery. The Browns subsequently left Tennessee for two years when Martin served in the U.S. Army as a commissioned officer. Upon their return, the Browns settled in Nashville, where Martin joined the Jack Daniel’s sales office and lived for the rest of his life.
Martin Brown was deeply proud to be a part of Jack Daniel’s growth and served in various roles at the company before retiring in 1986 when he was chairman and CEO. As a second career, he became chairman of Therapeutic Antibodies Inc., a British biotechnology company with a Nashville office. He led that company from its formative years through its initial public offering on the London Stock Exchange in 1996. He was consistently interested in entrepreneurial opportunities in Tennessee and served on the boards of diverse businesses such as Aegis Sciences Corporation (a laboratory testing company) and Micro Craft Inc. (an aerospace engineering firm) years after serving as a director of the Nashville Bank and Trust Company.
Martin also was committed to serving the broader community. He was an officer or board member of numerous local and national organizations, including the Land Trust for Tennessee, Southern Environmental Law Center, Nashville Chamber of Commerce, Fisk University, Montgomery Bell Academy, Harpeth Hall School, Cheekwood, National Parks Conservation Association and the Tennessee chapter of the Nature Conservancy and Nashville Community Bail Fund. He was a persuasive fundraiser for many of these organizations in addition to being an enthusiastic financial supporter.
In his free time, he loved being in nature, fishing and riding horses. As the longest member of the Nashville Polo Club, he traveled and played with generations of players. He was a member of the Coffee House Club. Throughout his life, he traveled to Delray Beach, Florida, during winters and north of Lake of the Woods in Ontario during summers.
Martin’s hallmark traits were to be an eternal optimist and always look for the best in people that he encountered. He was the epitome of a southern gentleman. As a parent and grandfather, he took great pleasure in his role as a teacher. One of his specialties was backgammon. He lost only occasionally, and those moments were celebrated in honor of both the victor and the teacher.
He was predeceased by his wife of 49 years, Betty Brown; his parents, his brother, Owsley; his parents-in-law, Sue and Rodman Moorhead; and his sister-in-law, Sue Smythe. He is survived by his four children: Martin, Eliza, Nina and Susannah and their spouses Cathy, Hal, Casper and Zulu; his nine grandchildren: Sara, Louis, Anna, Lucas, Willem, Martin, Josephine, Willow and Max; his sister, Ina Bond; his brother, Lee Brown; and his wife, Margaret (Peggy), whom he married in 2018.
The funeral service was held at Christ Church Cathedral, 900 Broadway, Nashville, Tennessee on Aug. 15 , 2019, with visitation preceding the service at the church. His internment will take place at a later date with family present. In lieu of flowers, please consider a contribution to the Land Trust for Tennessee or the Southern Environmental Law Center.