Tom Watson Brown, R.I.P.

Tom Watson Brown has died. I met him once back in 2002. He was quite an interesting fellow.

Few who saw the round man wearing a plaid shirt and suspenders suspected he was educated at Princeton and Harvard universities, was a lawyer and chairman of a communications company, owned 6 percent of the Atlanta Falcons —- though he was no more athletic than shooting billiards —- and always had his checkbook ready to support education.

The man who lived in an 1842 antebellum house, flew the Confederate flag and had a black jockey statue in his yard was awarded the Martin Luther King Jr. Center’s community service award for peace and justice. Coretta Scott King herself presented Mr. Brown with the award for his substantial contributions to and support of the Legal Aid Society of Atlanta.

He personified the dichotomy that defines the true South.

Mr. Brown, 73, of Marietta died of complications from diabetes Saturday at Piedmont Hospital. Visitation is 4 p.m. today at Mayes Ward-Dobbins Funeral Home. The funeral is 2 p.m. Wednesday at Hickory Hill in Thomson.