James Edward Brower

James Edward Brower was born in Amsterdam, NY on December 11, 1939 to Richard and Mary Brower of Johnstown.

He spent his childhood in Johnstown, NY and graduated from Johnstown High School in 1957. Upon graduation he applied for the Navy and State Teachers College in Albany, New York. He often remembered the day when he received two letters in the mail. The first from the Navy, rejecting him and the second from Albany, accepting him. This pivotal day set his career on a separate course from his brothers, Richard who was in the Coast Guard; and Robert, who was in the Navy.

Jim immersed himself into his studies in biology, and upon graduation was recommended for a Masters’ Program at Syracuse and later completed his Doctorate in the (then new) field of Environmental Science at Syracuse University in 1969.

He met the love of his life, Marijke Juchter of Scotia, NY, while they were both undergraduates at Albany and they married in 1962. Their early years together were filled with small children, graduate work and research. Marijke took care of the children, often to the sound of Jim’s guitar playing. Jim was accomplished at cooking and was extremely proud of his sourdough pancakes and pizza, which the entire family thoroughly enjoyed.

Jim came from a long and prolific line of Browers who had settled in the Johnstown area before the American Revolution. Both of his parents were legendary storytellers and Jim spent much of his later life tracking down those stories, placing them geographically, researching ancestors and interviewing (often distant) cousins. Jim inherited his parents’ gift of storytelling and could fill a room with laughter, recounting the wild antics of his relatives.

Jim began an academic career at Northern Illinois University teaching Environmental Science to graduate students. It was there he published the Field and Laboratory Methods for General Ecology with Jerrold H. Zar and Carl Von Ende, which is still in print more than 40 years later, and now in its 4th edition.

Jim then applied his academic expertise to the real world problem of pollution and environmental contamination, first at Equitable Environmental Health in Illinois, who subsequently transferred Jim (with family in tow) to their Long Island Office in 1977, where he became a Project Manager for the infamous Love Canal site near Niagara Falls, NY. He was then hired by Brookhaven National Lab (BNL) on Long Island, initially to manage their chemical toxicology program for the Safety and Environmental Protection Office and eventually joined the newly-formed Environmental Protection Division and supervised the cleanup of the many toxic waste sites on the BNL campus.

Jim loved to travel. He and his family crossed the country several times camping and collecting specimens for his research. He was also fond of vacationing with friends and family in the U.S., Canada, the Caribbean, Hawaii and Europe.

Jim believed in volunteer work. He was a Boy Scout Leader, President of the local Audubon chapter, as well as the Long Island Huntington Town Concert Association. He often commented that the single qualification needed to be President of an organization was the inability to say no. In his retirement, he taught a genealogy class as well as a computer class for seniors.

Retirement brought opportunities to travel, enjoy his grandchildren and the family summer home in upstate New York, not far from where Jim grew up. He continued to provide environmental consulting services during his retirement, despite his diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease. He and Marijke eventually moved to Poughkeepsie, NY to be closer to their beloved grandchildren and have family support as they aged.

Jim faced Parkinson’s Disease with research and courage. He fought it to the very end with strength, dignity, humor and grace. He is survived by his wife, Marijke J. Brower; children, Donna M. Bruschi, Keith R. Brower, Kathleen D. Mata and her husband Ray J. Mata; his grandchildren, James N., Steven T. and Skyler Bruschi and dog, Lily. He was predeceased by his brothers, Richard T. Brower, Idaho and Robert C. Brower, Arkansas.

A memorial service will be held March 7, 2020 at the Reformed Church of Poughkeepsie, NY. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his name to the Parkinson’s Foundation (www.parkinson.org).

By Kerry Minor

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