Commemorating 120 Years as a Great University

Marking 120 years of an extraordinary University, February’s Charter Day activities highlighted the academics, the place and most importantly, the people that make The University of Montana so special.

For one person, it’s a story that began 67 years ago, when as a young man, Rockwood “Rocky” Brown left his home in Billings and set foot on campus, anxiously embracing a new world to discover.

“I started school back in 1946 when I first turned 18 years old,” says Brown. “World War II had just ended, and here I found myself with returning veterans, now students, some who had been shot out of the sky during combat; another who had been a POW in the Bataan Death March. I was so green, and the experience of being in a place like The University of Montana was very profound.”

Brown’s experience led to a lifelong commitment and devotion to UM. Now, he will be remembered forever for the way he gives back to his alma mater.

Rocky Brown

He is the recipient of this year’s Neil S. Bucklew Presidential Service Award. The award, established by The University of Montana Foundation, recognizes men and women who make extraordinary efforts to enhance the bonds among the community, state and The University of Montana.

“The University has been awfully good to me,” says Brown. “Especially the Law School which is a relationship that I truly savor. It’s a friendship that I have enjoyed for many years, and that I am proud to be a part of.”

Brown is a 1950 graduate of the School of Business, and a 1952 graduate of the School of Law, where he served on the editorial board of the Montana Law Review. He is also a Foundation Trustee Emeritus and a current member of the School of Law’s Board of Visitors and serves on the School’s new development committee.

“Rocky’s connection to the University began almost 70 years ago, and since that time, his dedication and commitment to his alma mater has embodied the spirit of this award,” says UM Foundation President and CEO Laura Brehm. “He works to promote higher education in our state and sets a wonderful example in his service to his community. In word and deed, Rocky continues to demonstrate the attributes the University seeks to develop in its students.”

After graduating and serving in the U.S. Air Force Judge Advocate General’s Office, Brown and his late wife, Marilyn, (and eventually their five children) settled in Billings where he joined his father’s law firm, known around the state as simply “the Brown Law Firm.”

“For those of us who know and have been lucky enough to work with Rocky, we can say he is generous, loyal, and a hard-working individual,” says Brehm.

“And while not a man to lead by bullhorn or inspire with rhetoric, simply put, when Rocky Brown talks, people listen.”

Pictured: Rocky Brown, courtesy of Lauren Brown Photography.