Passing of a Safety Giant – Don Brown

Mar 09, 2020

Hi folks – Don Brown has passed away. I first met Don in the mid 70’s at ASSE in Old Town at the Padre Trails Inn where the group initially met.

This was in the days that safety training consisting of either renting a reel to reel movie for a couple of hundred a week and buy one for $850 and the old 35mm slide and cued tape safety presentations. Few of you likely remember…..

We got to know each other and immediately became fast friends as he was a retired Marine Captain and I was a Navy Corspman….just a natural connection. He took me under his wing and mentored me at Fedmart where I trained many hundreds of forklift operators and each employee in first aid/cpr!

Don was a Texan through and through – The studios were in Stafford just outside Houston.

Don developed the first safety program for the Marine Corps. He was the corporate safety director for Varco Oil Tools, Mc Donalds and Fed Mart, the precursor to Costco and Walmart.  Don was the funniest man I ever knew and that showed in the videos…most being darn funny! Imagine that, using humor to sell safety! We did one for Fedmart – “Forkin Around at Fedmart” a bid success as many companies wanted their own funny corporate video!

Since most companies would never spend the money to train their employees we said….let’s do it ourselves with this new format known as video.

Well he did, and I was fortunate enough to be a part of it. I researched and wrote scripts…..more than a 1000. Also directed shoots and special projects for custom videos for major fortune 500 companies. (All while working full time at Helix Water) Before selling the company he did more than 2500 specific safety videos not to mention untold thousands of corporate videos.

Don was a Marine Captain and Vietnam vet thus suffered from the effects of surviving 2 helicopter crashes and the effects of a horrible war and PTSD. Don had numerous surgeries for his back that was in such bad shape.

I am so grateful for Don direction and counsel. He largely shaped my career. He helped each of us as well for he was the first to really move safety ahead in the mind of management.

Check out a couple of humorous clips from the early days.