Perry Brown

Perry Lee Brown, 40, of Fort Madison, IA, passed away on Thursday, May 29, 2008 at Great River Medical Center in West Burlington, IA. He was born on December 9, 1967 in Fort Madison, IA to Roy J. & Laura M. Varboncoeur Brown. He married Tammy L. Riley on February 20, 1988 in Fort Madison, IA. He was a technician at J & S Electronic Business Systems since December of 1997. He was a member of the Amateur Softball Association and was the current secretary of the Iowa High School Athletic Association for Southeast Iowa.
Perry is survived by: his wife: Tammy L. Brown of Fort Madison, IA; 2-daughters: Courtney & Riley Brown both of Fort Madison, IA; 2-brothers: Robert (Tina) Brown of Kansas City, MO & Brad (Erica) Glidewell of Leslie, MO, his mother: Laura (Jim) Glidewell of Fort Madison, IA and several nieces & nephews.
He was preceded in death by: his father, his grandparents, 2-brothers: Rick & Charles “Tony” Brown, his step father: Duane Myers and 1-nephew.
Friends may call after Noon on Sunday, June 1, 2008 with the family to meet with friends from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. Sunday afternoon at King-Lynk Funeral Home & Crematory. The funeral service will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Monday, June 2, 2008 at King-Lynk Funeral Home & Crematory with Rev. John Simpson officiating. Burial will be in Oakland Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, a memorial has been established for his children's education and contributions may be left at King-Lynk Funeral Home & Crematory. Online condolences may be left at the King-Lynk Funeral Home website:   

Suddenly, the game didn't matter

Perry Brown loved the sport of softball, loved to be around kids, loved umpiring games.

Brown, from Fort Madison, passed away Thursday night doing what he loved to do most -- umpiring softball.

In the bottom of the fifth inning of the first game of a Mississippi Athletic Conference softball doubleheader between Burlington and Davenport North, Brown, the base umpire, suddenly began to stagger around between second and third bases. Brown, from Fort Madison, crumpled to the ground.

Brown, who suffered an apparent heart attack, lapsed in and out of consciousness as Dr. James Milani and Donnie Ryan, a paramedic, administered CPR.

Suddenly, softball became just a meaningless game. As Brown fought for his life, suddenly hits and runs meant nothing. The only thing that mattered was the game of life.

The players from Burlington stood outside their dugout, sobbing as they watched the traumatic events unfold.

For the players of Davenport North, it was the last thing they needed to see. Earlier this year, one of their former players died in Iraq. Then, in February, softball coach Jeff Manders' daughter died after suffering a seizure.

Now, Manders and the Wildcats had to deal with yet another tragedy.

"We've been dealing with a lot of losses this year. It's been a pretty tough year for us already," a visibly shaken Manders said. "The girls are pretty shaken up right now. To see this happen right in front of us ... this is tough on the kids. It's tough on me. It's tough on everyone."

Just like that, in the blink of an eye, the game of softball was put into perspective. It is just that -- a game. Suddenly, balls and strikes meant nothing. All eyes were glued to the paramedics as they administered CPR on Brown, a long-time umpire who has worked games at a variety of different levels across southeast Iowa.

Suddenly, the only thing that mattered was Brown, who was fighting for his life.

"I watched him and he hit his head pretty hard," said BHS coach Larry Heath, who was the first to arrive at Brown's side. "I thought maybe he was having a seizure, so I rolled him onto his side. He seemed to be breathing OK. He lost his pulse a couple of times, but it came back. We were lucky that Donny and Jim were there. It was a real scary situation."

For 15 agonizing minutes, everyone watched -- and prayed -- while Brown was administered to and finally taken away by a Burlington paramedics crew.

Many of the people who came to watch the game looked on in stunned disbelief. No words needed to be said. This was about life and death.

The Davenport North players cried in the dugout, hugged one another, tried to console each other. It was yet another tragedy in what is becoming a year of tragedies.

After Brown was taken to the ambulance, home plate umpire Tony Sauer hopped in his car and headed for Great River Medical Center to be with his friend and associate. Softball, as you can well imagine, was the furthest thing from his mind. Just a few hours earlier, Sauer and Brown were laughing and talking as they dressed for the game. Less than two hours later, Brown was laying on the ground, clinging to life.

The Burlington players gathered in their dugout with Heath and assistant coaches John Pilger and Brian Mixer. The Grayhounds, as you can well imagine, were sobbing uncontrollably.

Unlike the softball game, this situation was out of their control. So they did the only thing they could do -- they prayed.

Heath hugged his daughter Melanie, as many of the BHS parents came out to hug their daughters.

Suddenly, the game of softball was put into perspective. It is, after all, just a game.

Instead of cheering in the dugout as they had been doing moments earlier, the Grayhounds were in the dugout praying for Brown to recover.

And the Wildcats were doing the same thing on the other side of the field.

"Our hearts go out to the umpire," Manders said. "Softball is still just a game."

"It's just a game," said Heath, fighting back tears. "It's just a tragedy. I really don't know what to say. I do know that Perry loved softball and he loved being an umpire."—Matt Levins

An emotional night

BHS sweeps North Scott in first home games since death of umpire.


The Burlington High School softball team had a little meeting before Monday's Mississippi Athletic Conference doubleheader against North Scott at Wagner Field.

The Grayhounds decided to dedicate the rest of their season to the memory of Perry Brown, the umpire from Fort Madison who died of a heart attack during a game last Thursday at Wagner Field.

After a pre-game ceremony honoring Brown, the Grayhounds had just one thing left to do -- win.

Thanks to the stellar pitching and timely hitting of senior Connie Ferrill, Burlington made sure its first home doubleheader since the tragedy would be a successful one.

Ferrill scattered five hits and drove in what proved to be the game-winning run with a double in the first game as the Grayhounds raced to a 5-1 victory.

BHS completed the sweep in a game shortened to 4 1/2 innings by lightning in the nightcap. Senior Whitney Plein belted a three-run home run to spark the Grayhounds to a 7-4 triumph.

Perry Brown, these two wins -- and the rest of the season, for that matter -- are for you.

"Half of the team went to the visitation (Sunday) night and the other half went to the funeral (Monday morning)," Ferrill said. "We came out and played for him tonight."

"We dedicated the rest of the season to Perry," Plein said. "Everything tonight and for the rest of the season is for him."

BHS coach Larry Heath was not sure how his team would react in its first home game since Brown died Thursday night. He was pleased with the maturity his team showed in handling a difficult situation.

"I thought the girls handled it very well," Heath said. "I think that speaks a lot for the maturity of the players. I think all the parents had a lot to do with it, too."

BHS (7-1 overall, 2-0 MAC) got off to a slow start in the opener. The Grayhounds managed just two hits through the first three innings before Ferrill jump-started the offense.

Plein reached on a one-out infield single in the fourth inning, then stole second. One out later, Ferrill lined a double to left-center field to drive in Plein with the game's first run.

"We just needed someone to start it," said Ferrill, who silenced North Scott on just one hit through the first six innings. "I got up there and got a hit and that got it started. Once we get started, we all started hitting. It usually takes one person to start it and then we just keep going and going and going."

The Grayhounds broke the game open with a four-run sixth. Kirstin Kramer started the inning by reaching on an error and scored on a triple to right-center by Plein. Kara Atkins and Ferrill each drove in a run with a hit before courtesy runner Hope Mixer scored on an error.

That was more than enough run support for Ferrill, who ran into trouble in the seventh before striking out Kacie Norton on a wicked changeup with the bases loaded to end the game.

"My changeup wasn't the best tonight, but that was a good one there," Ferrill said.

The Grayhounds' offense picked up in the second game where it left off in the first. BHS loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the first inning. Ferrill drove in Tina Gonzalez with a groundout, Hannah Parker singled in Plein and Tiffany McVey drove in courtesy runner Kristen Elting with a single to give the Grayhounds a quick 3-0 lead.

North Scott (5-3, 1-3) scored a run in the second inning against BHS pitcher Ali Martin.

Plein made it a 6-1 game with one mighty swing of her bat in the bottom half. Kramer reached on a one-out double and Gonzalez drew a walk. Plein then blasted a 1-1 pitch from Taylor Bender over the left-field fence.

"I was just trying to put the ball in play and get something going," Plein said. "It seems like when one person hits, we all start to hit. It's kind of like you catch a disease and it spreads."

The Lancers answered with a three-run fifth, highlighted by a two-run single by Brittani Yost.

BHS added a run in the bottom of the inning when Maggie Milani drove in Plein with a single.

The game was then halted due to lightning and 15 minutes later was called a complete game.

"I think we have slipped back a little bit in our hitting since the second game at Cedar Rapids Jefferson," Heath said. "We don't have the same kind of focus we set out with at the beginning of the season. But we had enough hitting tonight to carry us through."


North Scott 000 000 1 -- 1 5 4

Burlington 000 104 x -- 5 7 2

WP -- Connie Ferrill (4-0). LP -- Brei Haycraft. Leading hitters -- Burlington: Whitney Plein 2-3, Ferrill 2-3. 2B -- Ferrill 2. 3B -- Hallie Eller (NS), Jenna Higgins (NS). RBI -- North Scott: Higgins 1; Burlington: Ferrill 2, Plein 1, Kara Atkins 1.


North Scott 010 03 -- 4 10 1

Burlington 330 01 -- 7 7 1

WP -- Ali Martin (3-0). LP -- Taylor Bender. Leading hitters -- North Scott: Shari Huber 3-3, Brittani Yost 3-3, Steph Schmidt 2-3. Higgins 2-3. Burlington: Kirstin Kramer 2-3, Plein 2-3. 2B -- Yost, Kramer 2. HR -- Plein. RBI -- North Scott: Yost 3; Burlington: Plein 3, Ferrill 1, Hannah Parker 1, Maggie Milani 1, Tiffany McVey 1.

Records: North Scott 5-3 (1-3), Burlington 7-1 (2-0).