Willis Donald Brown, former Campbell Law administrator and state legislator, dies at 89

Black and white photo of Willis Brown

WILMINGTON — Willis Donald Brown, former associate dean of advancement for the Campbell University Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law, died on May 10 at New Hanover Regional Medical Center. He was 89.

Brown joined Campbell University in 1989 and served the law school for six years until 1995, according to his obituary.

“Willis Brown was a good and loyal friend to many, but especially to many of us on the School of Law faculty,” Campbell Law Professor Jim McLaughlin told the Harnett County Daily Record. “He always had a kind word for folks. Willis had a good sense of humor and was a great storyteller. He made us laugh often. Obviously, he is missed by many of us.”

In 1994, he was elected to the House of Representatives for Lee, Harnett and Sampson counties. Brown served in the General Assembly of North Carolina from 1994 until 1996.

A recipient of the James Iredell Award presented by Campbell Law School, Brown was a professor of criminal justice at Mount Olive College from 2003 -2011 where he taught ethics and criminal procedure courses. He also served as mediator and arbitrator for the North Carolina Court System for more than 15 years. Brown was a member of the New Hanover and Pender county bar associations, the North Carolina Bar Association, the American Bar Association, and the North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers.

The ninth of 14 children, he was born on Oct. 3, 1929, in Kenansville to the late Otis David and Sally Spell Brown.

Brown earned an associate of arts from Campbell College, a bachelor of arts from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and a doctor of jurisprudence (Doctor of Law with Honors) from UNC School of Law.

Following law school, he joined the U.S. Army and graduated from JAG School at the University of Virginia. He served three years in the U.S. Army JAG as a lieutenant before moving to Fayetteville where he served as senior partner in the law firm of Brown, Fox, Deaver, Sweeney, Harris, Mitchell, and Moss for 24 years and was owner of Ann & Willis Brown Rental Company.  

He is survived by his wife, Ann McDonald, and four daughters:  Carolyn Brown Dennis and husband Michael of Oak Island, Catherine Brown Floyd and husband David of Wilmington, Charlotte Brown Lewis and husband Selby of Wilmington, Clara Brown Monroe and husband Sandy of Wilmington; four grandsons, William Eugene Floyd, Selby Brown Lewis, Campbell Stewart Monroe, and Daniel Mac Dennis. He is also survived by his sister, Ruth Brown Lanier of Rose Hill; a brother, Bobby Grey Brown, of Magnolia; many nieces and nephews; and many great nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by a grandson, William Stewart Monroe; eight sisters; and three brothers. He is survived by the Browns’ extended family, Joyce Bowden; daughter, Beverly; son, Reggie; and their family from Fayetteville.

A celebration of life was held on May 14 at the First Baptist Church and interment followed at Oleander Memorial Gardens. The family asks that memorials be made to the First Baptist Church, 411 Market St., Wilmington, NC 28401 or Shriners Hospital, PO Box 12829, New Bern, NC 28560.