MOAA Life Member Shines Through Community Commitment

MOAA Life Member Shines Through Community Commitment
Lt. Col. Mary Brown, USAF (Ret), helps with a free pancake breakfast for attendees at the world-famous Frontier Days in Cheyenne, Wyo. The event welcomes as many as 37,000 people each year. (Courtesy Photo)

By Judy Christie


On a given day, you might find Lt. Col. Mary Brown, USAF (Ret), up bright and early buying five dozen doughnuts for the Holy Family Chapel at F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo.; traveling around Laramie County, helping high school juniors learn more about leadership; or serving Kiwanis pancakes to tens of thousands of tourists at the world-famous Cheyenne Frontier Days.


The Life Member of MOAA could be headed to Washington, D.C., for the association’s annual Advocacy in Action event or traveling from Wyoming across to Colorado as treasurer of the WY-CO Border Chapter of MOAA, a chapter of 50 members she helped form when the Wyoming Chapter needed a boost.


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Throughout her life, Brown has combined an outgoing personality with a desire to serve. She said she believes in the importance of “getting to know everyone around you, and letting them get to know you. 


“Opportunities open up,” she added. “You have to try things to see what you like.”


She has tried — and liked — a lot. She’s an active member of the Laramie County Community Partnership and the Cheyenne Kiwanis Club, past president of the Frontier Lions Club, trustee of Area 3 of the Lions of Wyoming Foundation, immediate past president and recording secretary of the St. Mary’s Cathedral Guild, immediate past president of the St. Mary’s vocations club, president of the F.E. Warren AFB Museum board, co-chair of the United Way education team, vice president of the Red Cross board, and member of the steering group for Junior Leadership of Laramie County.


Friends, with whom she enjoys dining out and attending movies and plays, tease: “Mary, you need to get out more.”


“I stay up late, and I get up early,” said Brown, who operates on five or six hours of sleep a night.


[RELATED: MOAA Member Inducted Into Florida Veterans Hall of Fame]


As a supper club waitress in college in Wisconsin, she realized early the importance of being sociable.


“Shy waitresses don’t make many tips,” she said with a laugh.


After college, she chose the Air Force over the Peace Corps, surprised when a recruiter told her as a grad she could attend officer training school. “Just take your smile,” he said. “You’ll be fine.”


Her Air Force career started in 1977, with a specialty in communications that included assignments such as San Antonio, two tours in Germany, a remote tour to Korea, and finally to Cheyenne, where she has lived for the past 30 years. Following her retirement in 1998, she segued into other jobs to help people, including at Laramie County Community College as a licensed professional counselor, job facilitator and GED instructor; as a family life educator at the F.E. Warren AFB Airman and Family Readiness Center; and as a sexual assault response coordinator. Throughout, she has stayed engaged with social services, nonprofit organizations, and education systems.


Why does she do so much? Her answer comes quickly: “Never stop serving — the MOAA motto.”


Judy Christie is a writer based in Colorado.


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