Billy Bob Brown was born in 1939 to Porter and Laura Brown in Panhandle, Texas. Porter owned and operated the Brown family farm just outside of town and Laura was a local schoolteacher. Billy Bob was raised on the family farm and spent his youth playing a variety of sports for Panhandle High School and drag racing throughout Texas. Between farming and sports, Billy Bob developed a strong work ethic that followed him throughout his life.
Billy Bob and Porter worked together out at the farm on his prized drag race car. He was one of the few drivers that drove his race car to and from the races. He was known for having a bit of a lead foot and there was no mistaking when he was leaving town to go home.
He was the first person to break 100 mph at the Houston Speedway in his class. He didn’t have a few trophies from his career in racing, but well over a 100 first place finisher trophies. A desire to excel also went along with his work ethic.
He was a second-generation graduate of Panhandle High School; his mother was also a graduate of PHS. Billy Bob attended the University of Houston, Amarillo College and then went on to attend the University of Texas.
From an early point in his life, Billy Bob was recognized as a leader. He was voted team captain of his basketball team at Amarillo College. While attending UT, (class of ’62), he majored in broadcasting with minors in journalism and public relations. His peers voted him Best Television Director his senior year.
Billy Bob worked in public television while attending UT. He had a successful career in the television production industry after graduation. He worked for KMID-TV in Midland Texas as a director; KVII-TV, Amarillo as production manager and KWTV, Oklahoma City as producer-director. While in Oklahoma, he produced the very first televised National Finals Rodeo.
In 1972, Billy Bob made the decision to leave television and come back to Panhandle to raise his family. He worked on the family farm in partnership with his father Porter for several years and eventually took over the farm in 1980.
Billy Bob went above and beyond to serve the farming community throughout his life. He was what is known as an “AGvocate”. Farming was not just a “job” or a “career” for Billy Bob. It was a vocation. He was committed to the betterment of the industry through his service to numerous committees, councils and boards. His contributions made a lasting impact on the farming industry not just locally, but nationally and internationally.
Billy Bob served on the boards of the Carson County Farm Bureau, the Texas Grain Sorghum Producers, the Texas Grain Association, the Executive Committee of the U.S. Grains Council, the National Grain Sorghum Producers and was President of the National Grain Sorghum Producers organization for three years.
Billy Bob traveled extensively and spent a great deal of time in Washington D.C. lobbying for agricultural legislation. He initiated the corporate membership program to the National Sorghum Association to increase resources for the betterment of the sorghum industry.
While being on the various sorghum boards, Billy Bob travelled to Korea and Australia to help develop markets for sorghum. He was named the Fort Worth Star Telegram Sorghum Farmer of the Year.
Texas Governor, Bill Clements, named Billy Bob to serve on the state advisory committee on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) as an agricultural representative. It was at this time that he was named Carson County Conservation Farmer of the Year. He also served as a member of the Panhandle, Texas Economic Development Committee.
Billy Bob served on the Texas Farm Bureau Wheat Advisory Committee twice and once as state Wheat Committee Chairman. He was a member of the Panhandle Economic Development Committee and the Chamber of Commerce and awarded many times for his service.
He was a member of the Project 2000 Committee to determine the direction of the Texas Farm Bureau after the year 2000. He served four terms as President of the Carson County Farm Bureau. The county showed excellent financial growth under his leadership.
Billy Bob served as Communications Committee Chairman from the inception of the United Sorghum Checkoff Program. The Sorghum Checkoff is a producer-funded organization dedicated to improving the sorghum industry through research, promotion, and education.
In 2008, Billy Bob was appointed to the initial Sorghum Promotion, Research, and Information Board by the United States Secretary of Agriculture. You know that you’ve established yourself as a trusted leader in farming when the Secretary of Agriculture calls you at home to solicit your advice. That was Billy Bob Brown.
It was once noted that Billy Bob was a “fourth generation” farmer, but that’s actually not the case. Recent family genealogy research found that he was a multi-generational farmer with roots dating back to the early days of our country. Ancestors include a prominent Revolutionary War hero and Confederate War soldiers (both sides). Many war veterans were farmers. Their farms were passed down from generation to generation, sometimes moving in the process due to war or other hardships. The Brown family migrated down the Eastern seaboard and across the South, eventually landing in Texas. Research is ongoing and it will be a proud legacy to share with Billy Bob’s descendants. One thing remains true, farming and a love of country truly run deep in the Brown blood.
While Billy Bob dedicated much of his life to farming, it hasn’t been his only passion. He was an avid athlete, sports buff and photographer. He spent countless hours taking pictures at many of the youth sporting events in Panhandle. He graciously shared his photographs with athletes and their families free of charge. He selflessly gave back to his community in so many ways.
Billy Bob had a gift of being able to tell a story through his photography. He captured historical places and landscapes with his lens; things that were old but not to be forgotten. The walls of their home are lined with images of sports, farming and family.
Billy Bob Brown gave his time, his talent and his wisdom in any endeavor that he served. He was a strong leader in his community, but more importantly to his family.
Billy Bob and his wife Linda have been attending the Community Crossroads Church of White Deer. They met later in life and considered themselves very fortunate to have done so. Linda grew up on a cotton farm at Slide, Texas (a hiccup south of Lubbock) so she is no stranger to the uniqueness of farm life. She made the perfect life partner for Billy Bob.
Billy Bob leaves behind his beloved wife Linda, his three children, Robin (Laura) Brown, Kevin (Christle) Brown and Brandy Johnson as well as Linda’s two children, Lynette (Keith) Wilson and Buddy (Mandi) Thompson.
Together, Billy Bob and Linda share nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Grandchildren are Kristopher (Tia) Brown, Kinsey (Matt) Kiker, Haley (Nicholas) Pate, Ashley Johnson, Kennadee Keiser, Hannah Brookshire, Hunter Cockerell, Colton Thompson and Emma Thompson. Great grand-children are Phoenix, Keegan, Harper and Nakoa.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Porter and Laura (Pullen) Brown.
The Brown family farming tradition will continue on with grandson Kris at the helm. Kris has spent a considerable amount of time at the hand of his grandfather learning a vocation that has been passed on from generation to generation. He couldn’t have asked for a better mentor and he continues the long and distinguished legacy of farming in the Brown family.
Funeral services will be Friday, May 6, 2022, at the Panhandle High School Gym. Burial will be in the Panhandle Cemetery under the direction of Minton Chatwell Funeral Directors of Panhandle. There will be a visitation at the funeral home on Thursday, May 5, 2022, from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm.