Experience

A friendship strengthened by Culver values

Jan Garrison
 

Liese and Brown honor each other

 

March 17, 2021

Hank Liese ’67 (left) and Colin Brown ’67 (right) have been friends since meeting in the fifth grade at the American School in Manila, the Philippines, in 1959. They became fast friends until Brown returned to the states with his family after eighth grade.

By then, though, plans were starting to take shape to bring them back together. Brown’s older brother, Keirn “KC” Brown ’64, was attending Culver Military Academy. When he visited the campus with his family, Brown said he knew it was the place for him. 

He let Liese know of his plans and how “impressive” the uniforms looked. Liese – having not set foot on campus – decided Culver was the place for him, too. During the application process, Liese discovered he had Culver connections, too. His grandfather, Lucien S. Brown (no relation to Colin), had been the regimental commander in 1916.

They both arrived on campus in the fall of 1964 as plebes. The storybook should read that they were roommates all three years and became even stronger friends. But it didn’t happen that way.

Liese was assigned to Battery A and Brown to Company A. And while they did see each other in classes and around campus, they were always busy studying and pursuing their various interests. Plus, the old men in Company A weren’t happy with plebes from other units paying visits. And they let Liese know it.

“They were big,” he laughed. “They were bruisers.”

 

Colin Brown (left) and Hank Liese their first day as plebes on the Culver campus.

 

With Liese’s family 10,000 miles away in the Philippines, Culver essentially became Liese’s home. “But I was homesick as hell my plebe year,” he recalled.

Following graduation, they went to different colleges. Brown became an attorney and Liese started working in public relations. They kept in touch, attended each other’s weddings, but nothing out of the ordinary for high school friends.

After 12 years of working in public relations, Liese made a career change. He went back to college and got his advanced degrees in social work and spent 24 years teaching at the University of Utah. He eventually became the dean of the University of Utah College of Social Work. Brown was the CEO of JM Family Enterprises in Deerfield Beach, Florida.

Through it all, they both maintained their connections to Culver. Liese has served as the 1967 class agent for the past 25 years. Brown has always been a faithful donor, remembering what one instructor told him. The instructor knew that Brown was a scholarship student and reminded him that it was his duty to help other students attend Culver, too.

“I took that to heart,” Brown said. It started at $10 per year and has built over time up to include two endowed scholarships. And he still feels that sense of obligation to help the upcoming generation of “Culver sons and daughters.”

But it wasn’t until their 50th reunion was on the horizon that they strengthened their friendship to its current level. They were both retiring and Brown told Liese that he would like to honor his years at Utah with a gift. The result was the Colin W. Brown Endowment that supports the Hank Liese Scholarship for BSW, MSW, or PhD students. At Liese’s request, special consideration is given to those students who are returning to college after careers in other fields.

And, recently Liese and his wife, Gail, returned Brown’s generosity by setting up a planned gift through a trust to enhance Brown’s endowed scholarship fund for faculty and staff children. Brown also established another scholarship for Culver students with parents serving in the armed services/reserves, NOAA, and the U.S. Public Health Service. It is in honor of his brother, Col. Keirn C. Brown, Jr. ’64

Since both men have retired, Liese and Brown talk frequently and visit when possible – pandemic aside. In one more year, they will be celebrating their 55th reunion. While their friendship began before Culver, Brown explained, the time and lessons learned here have made it stronger. Culver’s values and leadership training have served both men well.

“They really do stand the test of time.”

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