Roland P. Brown, 93, passed away on Friday, Aug. 16, 2019, in Newton.
Roland was born on June 5, 1926, in Kaichow, Hopei, China, to Henry and Maria Brown who were missionaries in China. He was the youngest of five siblings. In 1941, when the Japanese invaded China, his parents were taken as prisoners of war, and he was transferred to North Newton to stay with relatives who’d also served as missionaries to China. He completed his pre-med studies at Bethel College, and graduated from medical school at the University of Chicago. A lifelong Mennonite, he performed alternate service in Idaho and New Jersey during his residency.
In the early 1950s, Roland was sent to the relatively underdeveloped east coast of Taiwan under the auspices of the Mennonite Central Committee. There, after becoming a medical missionary under the General Conference Mennonite Church, he established the Mennonite Christian Hospital. In its earliest days, it operated mobile clinics serving aborigines in mountainous regions of Hualien County. Today it is one of the premier medical facilities in eastern Taiwan, providing healthcare for both the general population and aboriginal communities. From the hospital’s inception in the 1950s, until his retirement in the early 1990s, Roland performed both the roles of surgeon and hospital superintendent. Awards he received include: The Order of the Brilliant Star with Violet Grand Cordon (the highest civilian award in Taiwan), Bethel College Outstanding Alumnus Award, and the University of Chicago Alumni Association: Distinguished Service, Taiwan’s Third National Medical Dedication Award, R.O.C. Medical Association Award, The first Key to Hualien County and Hualien City and Good Persons and Good Deeds Award.
In college, he met Sophie Schmidt in 1944, and they were later married in 1948. They served as medical missionaries for nearly 50 years in Taiwan, except for Roland’s two years as surgeon at the Indian Medical Center in Phoenix in the 1970s. They adopted three children: Cliff, Carol and Keith, and were married for sixty two years prior to her passing in 2010.
He is survived by his sons: Keith and Cliff Brown; seven grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his wife, Sophie Schmidt; daughter, Carol Ann Fynan; parents, Henry and Maria (Miller) Brown; two brothers; and two sisters.
A memorial service is scheduled for Sept. 14 at the Bethel College Mennonite Church in North Newton. A public visitation is scheduled from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 25, with the family present from 2 to 4 p.m. at Petersen Funeral Home in Newton. A memorial has been set up for the following: Henry and Maria Brown Scholarship Fund and the Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary.