Physician known as visionary

Radiation therapy pioneer and longtime Augusta National Golf Club member Stephen William Brown, who ran the first aid station during the Masters Tournament for decades, died Thursday. He was 94.


Through his role at the tournament and at the club, Dr. Brown became a friend of founder Bobby Jones. In one of Dr. Brown's most poignant stories, he told of helping to lift the weakened Mr. Jones in his latter years when he had difficulty getting around Augusta National, said his daughter Margaret Elizabeth Brown and son-in-law Dr. Thomas Swift.

"He said that tears came to his eyes," his daughter said.

"To see such a great athlete not being able to move his legs," Dr. Swift said.

Dr. Brown founded the dominant radiology practice in Augusta, Brown Radiology Associates, and was instrumental in creating the Augusta Radiation Therapy Center and later the Georgia Radiation Therapy Center.

"He was instrumental in bringing modern radiation oncology to Augusta," said Dr. Jerry Howington, who helped design the Georgia therapy center.

He had the first cobalt radiation therapy machine in town in the late 1960s, but to found the community radiation therapy center in the '70s he had to give it up, and with it, a good chunk of his practice, said Jimpsey Johnson, his colleague for many years at Brown Radiology and at University Hospital.

"He had to sacrifice by not doing radiation therapy any more in his office," Dr. Johnson said, even though he could have kept that practice another 10 or 15 years. "He realized that was the wave of the future before many people did, and he took the lead in doing that."

In fact, even after he retired from medicine in his 70s , "he was still planning things for the future that he would never be a part of," Dr. Johnson said. "It reminds me of the old adage that a great man is a guy that plants a shade tree that he knows he will never lie under."

Dr. Brown was born in Hawkinsville, Ga., in 1914 and lost his father to influenza when he was 4. He excelled at school and "his teacher wrote a letter that said he was the smartest student we've ever had in Hawkinsville," Dr. Swift said.

He went to Louisiana State University, where he received his medical degree in 1938. He interned at Army hospitals, including Walter Reed Army Medical Center, as well as the Mayo Clinic, and finished up at University Hospital in 1947. After five years in the Army, he returned to University, where he served as chairman of the Department of Radiology from 1955 until he retired in 1986. He founded the School of Radiography there, which is named for him. He was also on the clinical faculty for Medical College of Georgia, beginning in 1956. He was a past president of the American Roentgen Ray Society and was widely known and well liked in his field, Dr. Johnson said. He would use his contacts to help friends or young colleagues get positions in other towns because he knew so many people, Dr. Johnson said.

"I don't know that anybody ever asked him for a favor that he didn't do," he said.

He loved golf and quail hunting and showing Tennessee walking horses, Dr. Swift said.

"He was a visionary, he was a physician and he was a sportsman," Dr. Swift said.

He also helped introduce the breast-sparing technique of lumpectomy and radiation therapy to Augusta for women with breast cancer, his daughter said.

"He was very proud of that, that he could help women with breast cancer not to have to go through any radical mastectomies," she said.

"He was a giant in the medical world," said Augusta attorney David Hudson, a longtime family friend.

Dr. Brown had been a member of Augusta National since 1955 and ran the first aid station during the Masters Tournament for "forever," Mr. Hudson said.

Dr. Brown died at his home after a long illness.

"He died as he lived, with his family and friends, very well loved," Ms. Brown said.

He is also survived by his wife, Avis Moate Brown; another daughter, Dr. Avis Brown Yount and her husband, Peter Shuford Yount; his son, Stephen William Brown Jr. and his wife, Susan Kopp Brown, all of Augusta; and six grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday at Trinity on the Hill United Methodist Church.

Reach Tom Corwin at (706) 823-3213 or