October 3, 1948- February 4, 2018

Michael (Mike) Lewis Brown was born October 3, 1948 in Taft, CA to Sam and Lois Brown. He passed from this world on February 4, 2018 at his home in Taft, CA.

At the age of seven Sam and Lois moved Mike and his younger brother, Patrick Dale Brown (Dale), to a Venezuelan oil camp located off the eastern coast of Lake Maracaibo. Sam worked in the Venezuelan oil fields of Dobajuro and Tia Juana as a pump and compressor mechanic and then later as a safety officer in the oil fields of Tia Juana. The family remained in Venezuela until Mike was fourteen when Lois returned to Taft with Mike and Dale. Mike continued to return to Venezuela each summer until he graduated from high school. He held dear the memories of his youth spent in the tropics. Even though he was a quiet and reserved man he told vivacious stories of fishing on Lake Maracaibo, hunting iguanas (which he commonly referred to as “chicken of the trees”), and spending time with friends who lived in the camp.

People who knew MIke as an adult would describe his character using adjectives like “respectable” and “responsible” but the young version of this reserved man was a lover of high jinks. Evenings spent at Tia Juana camp’s outdoor theater flowed with Cacique rum that was “borrowed” from his father’s liquor cabinet. Warm equatorial afternoons found Mike and the other boys from the camp engaged in epic battles which pitted one group of boys living on one side of the camp (christened the “Blackhawks”) against the boys living on the other side of the camp (christened the “Aces”). Mike, a proud member of the Blackhawks, was one of many enthusiastic participants armed with lemons and small rocks. At the close of each battle the boys from the warring groups intermingled, friends once more.

Mike attended and graduated from Taft Union High School and earned an Associate degree from Taft College. During these years he loved to hunt, camp and cruise Center Street with good friends. Before his passing he often reminisced to his family about times spent driving between A&W on main street, turning around in dumbo’s drive thru and then doing it all over again. On one fateful night, while cruising down Center Street, a young girl named Paula Wolfe jumped into the car in which Mike was riding. Little did Mike know that this girl would become his wife. In 1968 the young couple welcomed their first son, Brian Dale Brown, who was lovingly nicknamed “Bub”. Eleven years later their second son, Justin Lewis Brown, arrived. Ever fond of nicknames, Mike dubbed Justin “The Fuss”. While raising two boys, Mike worked happily as a groundskeeper for the Kern County Department of Parks and Recreation. Mike cared for the grounds at Camp Condor and Mt Abel as well as various parks in Taft, which were then owned by the county. While working at the Parks Department Mike also served the community as a reserve sheriff deputy.

After leaving his job with the County, Mike began a 26 year career as an oil field operator, working first for Mobil in the oil fields of Ventura County and then for Exxonmobil and Aera in Taft. He retired from the oil fields in 2008. After retirement, Mike enjoyed staying current with the happenings in his beloved Taft. He cruised the town in his truck, faithfully read the local papers, and watching televised city meetings. He was so informed in fact, that he was often urged by his family to find a way to contribute to local news outlets, or to start his own Taft-related blog. Ever the humble man, Mike did not take his family’s requests seriously and remained an untapped wealth of civic knowledge.

Throughout his life Mike valued family above all things. He was also a firm believer in second amendment rights. He had an encyclopedic knowledge of historical facts, especially those relating to war history. He was a classic movie “buff” and loved spending lazy afternoons watching westerns. He had a light-hearted appreciation for all things mysterious and would fire the imagination of young family members with stories of chupacabras and yetis, told with a mischievous smile on his face. He would throw in the occasional “curveball” story that was bizarre but true, he often laughed about a time when he tried with little success to convince his very skeptical son of the existence of square watermelons. He gloated for years after his son later found a news story about square watermelons.

Mike was a father, brother, uncle, grandfather, great-grandfather and friend. He will be missed dearly by those who were close to him. He is survived by sons Brian of Taft, CA and Justin and his wife Alison of Oxnard, CA. He is also survived by his brother Dale and his wife Patti of Taft; granddaughter Breanna of Taft, 4 great-grandchildren including Katelyn, Kindl, Jacob and Jackson of Taft; niece Jayme of Cupertino, CA; nephew Chad and wife Lindsey of Bakersfield, CA; great-nephews Colt and Chase of Bakersfield; and former wife Paula of Blackfoot, ID. He is preceded in death by his mother Lois of Taft and father Sam of Gloster, MS.

A private graveside service will be held at the West Side Cemetery.

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