Georgia Tech Athletics Donor Profile: Carey Brown
Plain and simple, Carey Brown has a passion for Georgia Tech. Since his graduation as an IE in 1969, he has been among the institute's most loyal supporters.
"I am the son of a Baptist minister. We moved around the state a number of times having lived in Atlanta for several years near Emory in the early 50's. Tech was the game in town. Coach Dodd was an 'icon'. He was held in the highest regard by everyone in the city and the state. He taught a Sunday School class at North Avenue Presbyterian Church and required his players to attend some type of church service on Sunday. My father, of course, loved that about him", he states.
"I attended several games as a Cub Scout sitting in the South end zone. Coach Dodd would make tickets available for youth groups. We also attended the Freshman Game on Thanksgiving Day. Going to Grant Field was like going to heaven, or so I thought", he remembers. "I recall feeling sorry for the opposing team; we would win so convincingly and so often."
His high school years were spent in Oglethorpe County, 17 miles east of Athens, "big time Bulldog country". "My high school math teacher encouraged me to attend Tech because I was pretty good in geometry. I could have attended a Baptist supported university, Wake Forest, Baylor, or Stetson, at little cost, but I always wanted to be a Ramblin' Reck. I was the first from my high school to attend Tech and never looked back", he recalls.
When he arrived at Tech, he was told he was a redneck. "I was just like everybody else in Lexington, Ga. Actually, I was 'pretty much country-come-to-town'. I played baseball for Coach Luck for a while, but I had to go to work. I had very little money. I landed a great Co-op job with GM in Atlanta at $1.35 per hour. I also worked several other jobs to pay tuition and my fraternity bill. [I don't think my father ever knew I was in a fraternity.]", he said with a grin.
Brown became involved in campus politics and was elected president of the student body. He recalls his first personal contact with Coach Dodd, "Athletic seating was a big deal. The upper deck of the east stands had recently been completed. Marc Dash, graduate senate president, and I agreed that more seats should be allocated to graduate students. Coach Dodd didn't want any graduate students who were from other schools in 'his' student section, much less more. I arranged an appointment through Ann Harrell to visit with Coach Dodd. I have never been more nervous at any other time in my life, before or since. He was gracious, accommodating and, to my amazement, acquiesced to more graduate student seating."
After graduation and military service, Brown quickly returned to active involvement at Tech. He remembers the early days of A-T as we now know it. "The Alexander-Tharpe Fund was a conduit through which Coach Dodd could award football tickets to contributors from corporate Atlanta because seating priorities were assigned to alumni strictly based on Roll Call giving. By the early 70's athletic fund raising 'for its own sake' had become a necessity; so Dr. Pettit gathered the troops at Piedmont Driving Club in 1972 and announced a seating priority based almost entirely on giving for athletic scholarships alone. What an uproar that created! We old timers remember that creating a hullabaloo far worse than our recent reseating for football and basketball."
With Jack Thompson at the helm, "half a secretary", and with volunteers Joe Anderson, Henry Maddox, and Dan Blitch in tow, Brown became the first chairman of the "new"A-T Fund.
"It was like raising money for your church. We wrote letters, made phone calls, organized the giving levels, arranged functions, and did whatever was necessary to help Jack in those early years. It is accurate to state that all the serious athletic fund raising which has taken place since, both capital and operating, were born in Jack's tiny office in the Old Naval Armory."
"Given the nature of this article, I know it sounds gratuitous, but I give Jack a lot of credit personally for not only surviving but prospering beyond anyone's wildest imagination. I have been involved in fund raising in nearly every corner of this city for over 35 years, and no one has done it better from scratch than has Jack."
Carey and Sally, whom he met in 1966 at a Pike party, are proud that both sons, Brent '96 and Tyler '00, graduated from Tech. Tyler served as president of the student body as did his father. Their daughter, Natalie, mother of granddaughter, Sally Anne, is a graduate of College of Charleston.
Brown is a principal in The Benefit Company, an executive and employee benefit planning firm. He is President-Elect of the Georgia Tech Alumni Association.