Newport-Mesa has lost a bellwether and an icon.
Retired Orange Coast College history professor Giles T. Brown died Saturday. He was 97.
The 65-year Newport Beach resident was modest and unassuming.
Brown was the college's last surviving charter faculty member. Hired in the summer of 1948 by founding OCC President Basil H. Peterson, Brown taught history and served as chairman of the college's social sciences division.
In 2007, OCC acknowledged Brown's extraordinary contributions when it named its 300-seat lecture hall the Giles T. Brown Forum.
"What a gentle soul," said retired OCC President David A. Grant.
"He had a mind of gigantic inquiry," said Grant, who was one of Brown's students in the 1950s. "He was always interested, always kind, always thoughtful. Orange Coast College is rightfully proud of its close association with him."
Brown left OCC in the fall of 1960 to lead the history department at Cal State Fullerton. He later served as Fullerton's dean of graduate studies and associate vice president of academic programs. But he continued to lead OCC's "Behind the Headlines" community lecture series through 1991 — for 42 years.