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Napili couple celebrates 60th wedding anniversary

By Staff | Apr 30, 2015

Bill and Joan Brown in 1996, when they accompanied Billy Graham being awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in Washington, D.C.

NAPILI – Packing and unpacking is something Bill and Joan Brown of Napili have learned to do well. Celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary this month, the Browns have lived in more than 30 homes and in over 200 hotels since getting married in 1955.

Both agree that Maui is the best place in the world to live.

“We don’t just take Maui for granted,” Bill said. “Every day, its beauty is a reminder of God’s very special handiwork. I figure, when God finished creating on that seventh day, He looked at Maui and knew He couldn’t improve on it, so He stopped creating!”

No, Bill isn’t a travelling salesman. He worked closely with Billy Graham for over 50 years directing and organizing the famed evangelist’s worldwide crusades and meetings.

That resulted in the couple living in temporary homes on five continents and in more than 25 of the 50 states.

“Billy Graham will be 97, and I still work for him four hours a day, phoning donors to pray with them and to thank them for making our ministry possible,” Bill said.

He was asked, “If Maui is the best place you’ve lived, where was the worst?”

Smiling, Bill wouldn’t be specific, except to say it was a southern state, and they “lived near a paper mill that, all day, smelled like rotten eggs!”

Obviously still very much in love after 60 years, romance for the Browns began in 1954. Joan, a very unhappy but successful English actress, was starring in a weekly British television show.

In that year, she went to hear Graham preach at London’s Harringay Arena. That night, she said, she realized that God loved her and could give her purpose for living.

Joan then starred in a feature religious film, “Souls In Conflict,” brought to America by Billy’s organization. Bill was asked to pick Joan up at the New York airport.

He said, “When I saw her, I just didn’t give any other guy a chance to get too close to her. We were engaged in four weeks and married seven months later.”

In each city, the Browns stayed for a year or more. Bill’s work for Graham included finding the biggest stadium in each city, raising a budget, publicity and finding thousands of workers as ushers, counselors and choirs.

The Browns have two sons. The youngest, David, resides in Napili and has a career in sales. Bill Jr. is sheriff of Santa Barbara County in California. The Browns have four grandchildren.

When people ask Joan what has made their marriage last, she always says, “We had a good referee: the Lord. God has been good to us and has brought us through our difficulties.”

A private celebration was held for Bill and Joan at their dear friend’s residence in Kahana. They said they will be praising the Lord for all that He has done, and sharing many stories of their travels, their love for one another and the beauty that is Maui.