By Jamie Saunders
In the year 2000, the wife of Floy Farr was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s while living at the Ashley Glenn Assisted Living and Memory Care in Peachtree City. Residents and staff were encouraged to participate in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s to honor her and raise money to research a cure. Unfortunately, the walk was to take place in Atlanta at 8:00 am, making it very difficult to drive so far away at such an early hour. Knowing the early departure time would be problematic, Floy contacted the Alzheimer’s Association requesting permission to start a walk in Southern Crescent in Peachtree City. He and Elaine Gaillard, Community Relations Director at Ashley Glen, did just that.
Iola Snow and Fred Brown, Jr., among others, attended a breakfast at Ashley Glenn where they were educated for the first time about Alzheimer’s disease and the potential fundraiser. “Before we left the breakfast meeting, Floy informed us he put each of our names on the committee sign up sheets. Fred was the former Mayor of Peachtree City, so he was signed up for Logistics. I was formerly on the Team Development Committee for the March of Dimes walk in Atlanta, so I was signed up for Team Development. Although we were novices at putting on a walk, it was a great success. We had 61 teams with over 450 people participating, and we raised over $73,000!”
From 2001-2010, she and Fred co-chaired the Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Southern Crescent in Peachtree City. “At the beginning of 2001, Floy invited Fred and me to dinner to discuss the walk. He was so proud of the walk’s success and felt it was because Fred and I knew what we were doing, so he turned the walk over to us! He didn’t ask if we wanted to do it, he just told us we were going to do it. That was Floy’s way. Fred and I co-chaired the Walk to End Alzheimer’s through 2010. We thoroughly enjoyed working with the Alzheimer’s Association, met many wonderful people in the 8 counties which make up the Southern Crescent, and we raised over $1,900,000! ”
This year will mark Iola’s 20th Walk to End Alzheimer’s, and she walks in memory of her life partner, Fred Brown. “Although Fred was never formally diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, Iola recognized the potential signs, due to her ongoing involvement with the Alzheimer’s Association. “When Fred first experienced some signs of not recognizing a close friend, we contact Dr. Alan Levey, who worked with us in the early and middle stages of the disease. He and his assistant helped us greatly during that period. Dr. Levey stated that in all likelihood, Fred was experiencing some Alzheimer’s along with his dementia.”
“Fred loved to read, he loved watching the Braves and the Falcons. We loved planning, organizing, and directing the Walk to End Alzheimer’s each year. We played a lot of golf. We traveled to Ireland, Italy, Hawaii, Alaska, the eastern Carribean, and cruised the Panama Canal. We enjoyed playing cards and other types of games, just the two of us or with friends and family. We would just sit on the patio and read and enjoy each other’s company.”
As the disease progressed, he could no longer comprehend what he was reading and began to lose interest in reading or playing cards and other games. “He didn’t recognize the Braves or Falcons on TV. It was so very, very sad. In the end, he didn’t recognize me at times nor his daughter.” For Fred and Iola, the last 6 months was a very stressful time as Fred was experiencing sundowners, hallucinations, and confusion. “It is so hard to see a loved one disappear right before your very eyes and know there is nothing you can do. It is also hard on the patient knowing what is happening and that nothing can be done.”
In life, Fred was avidly involved in his community. He served as City Councilman for Peachtree City from 1978 to 1981 and Mayor of Peachtree City from 1982-1992. Fred was a member of the Fayette County Health Department for 13 years and a member of the American Heart Association of Fayette County. He was also a member of the Fayette County Chamber of Commerce, receiving the Fayette County Chamber of Commerce “Citizen of the Year in 1991. He was a proud member of the Peachtree City Kiwanis Club, chaired the usher program at his church, and co-chaired the Alzheimer’s Memory walk for 10 years.
“He was a brilliant, kind person with a deep love for his family, community, country, and most importantly, God. He was a true servant in all aspects of his life. Our families are essential to us, and we spent as much time as we could with them. Fred has a daughter, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, and I have a son. I became involved in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s 20 years ago. Today, I am just as passionate about finding a cause and cure for this disease that steals loved one’s minds and memories.”
It is an honor to celebrate the life of Fred Brown, Jr., someone who gave so much to his community and to the Alzheimer’s Association. Thank you, Iola, for continuing to support the Walk to End Alzheimer’s for the last 20 years and for your fundraising efforts of nearly $2,000,000.