James O. Brown Sr., 92, Conrail investigator, preacher

James O. Brown Sr., 92, of Lumberton, a longtime Conrail employee who worked as a fill-in preacher at churches throughout the region, died after a brief illness on Sunday, Sept. 26, at Virtua Memorial in Mount Holly.

Having graduated from South Philadelphia High School in the middle of the Great Depression, Mr. Brown was fortunate to land a clerical job with the Pennsylvania Railroad.

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JamesO. Brown

He attended night class at Peirce School of Business Administration in Philadelphia and then at the Philadelphia College of Bible, now Philadelphia Biblical University, while he rose through the ranks of the railroad company, which eventually became Penn Central and later Conrail.

Mr. Brown reached the rank of chief investigator of freight claims before retiring in 1978 from Conrail.

While Mr. Brown's "true calling" was preaching and teaching the Bible, his family said, he kept his full-time job. But he traveled on weekends to preach at small churches in the area.

When he was younger, he also did some street preaching in Mount Holly, Easton Bible Church Pastor Joseph Scro said. Mr. Brown and others would set up in an open area, play music, and preach Bible passages.

For close to 70 years, Mr. Brown taught Sunday Bible school to teenagers and adults, mostly at Easton Bible Church in Hainesport, of which he was a longtime member.

Through his church, Mr. Brown was involved with the Camden Rescue Mission and jail ministry. Most of Easton Bible's 700 members knew Mr. Brown, and many had received free car repairs from him.

"He was a very gentle man, very generous," who loved to help people, especially with their cars, Scro said. "He would repair them and ask to not be paid."

"He was a very physical guy," said his son James Jr. "At 90, he was still working on automobiles."

Mr. Brown was born and raised in Philadelphia and graduated from South Philadelphia High School in 1936.

In 1943, he married Alberta Bryant, whom he met at a church in South Jersey. The couple moved to Lumberton in 1953.

In addition to his wife and son, Mr. Brown is survived by another son, Raymond; four grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.

Visitation will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 2, at Easton Bible Church, 2407 Fostertown Rd. in Hainesport. A worship service will be held at 11 a.m. at the church.

Burial will follow in the church cemetery.

The family asks that donations be made to Easton Bible Church and designated "for missions."


Contact staff writer Claudia Vargas at 856-779-3917 or cvargas@phillynews.com.