DEANNA BROWN-THOMAS, daughter: “I remember as a young girl coming up here walking the dogs, walking through the woods. I got stung by bees. Every now and then, dad used to come down here and fish on the pond. My father taught me how to drive on this driveway. He had a black Pacer, and he used to let me drive up here to get the mail.”
Brown had several vehicles that remain at the home, including a black van that Brown-Thomas, her mom and sister rode in with Brown to visit the town where he was born, Snelling, S.C., They would also travel to Dairy Queen in Augusta to buy foot-long hot dogs and Blackville, S.C., to visit the healing springs.
Brown-Thomas said her father taught her work ethic at a very young age. When she was about 6 or 7, her weekly chore was to water the lawn. She got paid $3 a week.
DARYL BROWN, son: When Daryl visited his father’s home, he always sat in a brown chair by Brown’s bed, which he called “the knowledge chair.” Two weeks before his father died, he visited him and sat in the chair.
“I could ask him any question that I wanted to ask him. That was my man. That my hero,” Daryl said.
VENISHA BROWN, daughter: One of Venisha’s fondest memories is the time she and her father were wearing their robes and listening to one of his shows on the stereo. They started dancing together and later sat down at the piano for Brown to show her some of the chords.
Tomi Rae walked by, laughing, and said it looked like “double exposure” because of how closely she resembled her father.
“We were at home. He wasn’t the godfather. He wasn’t James Brown. He was being daddy. I cherish that moment,” Brown said.
DAVID WASHINGTON, former personal assistant: When Brown became ill, Washington cared for him, took him to the doctor, prepared his meals and kept him company when Tomi Rae wasn’t at home. They often watched Westerns together, he said.
“I was here more than I was home. I enjoyed it though. … He was like a second father to me,” said Washington, who started working with Brown in 1994.
Brown was very neat and had a Bible in every room, he said.
“He always put God first,” Washington said. “He thanked God first, then the people and then him. He sacrificed himself for everybody else. He was good-hearted.”