Derek Brown, a 19 year old sophomore in electrical engineering, was killed in a head-on crash with a semitruck on Norris Road on Wednesday, Sept. 17 at 10:45 a.m.
Brown was the 5th floor resident assistant (RA) in the North Hedges dormitory. Cassie McCann, who is also an RA and has known Brown since high school at Florence Carleton High, described Brown as “an awesome RA.”
“What a cool thing just to see him step into that role, helping people, being a role model, getting people out opening their doors, building community . . . His staff loved him. He was well-known by all of Residence Life,” McCann said.
“Derek was definitely someone who made everybody feel like somebody; he loved people so much,” said Kaleigh Charles, a sophomore who first met Brown in fifth grade. She remembered trying to meet Brown for lunch in Hannon Hall last year and being unable to find him because “he was just talking to some random person.”
Brown was also a passionate musician. In high school, he played percussion in both the band and the drum line and also sang in the choir. “He was that person that made choir not lame,” McCann recalled with a smile. Charles added that, “he wanted to make music and buy his mom this car and buy them a new house.”
An active member in the MSU Rugby Club, Brown started as Forward wing, No. 11. “He was so excited to prove that he deserved to start,” Charles said. Brown was an all-around athlete, running track, playing football and rugby and wrestling in high school. He also loved to be outside, especially growing up near the Bitteroot River.
The middle of four children, Brown is survived by an older sister, Mistee, younger sister, Violet, and younger brother Kelly Jr. “Family was everything to him,” Charles said.
His faith in God was an important part of Brown’s life. He was active in the Belgrade Church of Christ where he had attended as a child before moving to Florence in fifth grade. “First and foremost in his life, and everyone knew this about him: he lived for Christ,” McCann said.
In one word, McCann described Brown as “genuine.” Charles added that “he was always there and always willing to talk about it and lend a helping hand.”
“The amount of love that [his fellow RAs] had for him after knowing him two to six months, and compared to me [knowing him] for several years was the same,” McCann said.
Services for Brown will be held Friday, Sept. 26 at 11 a.m. at the Florence Carlton High School. Carpooling to the service is encouraged.