I had just been released from the Army after spending more than a year at William Beaumont Army Hospital in El Paso.
While awaiting discharge I made plans to attend X-ray technology school at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston.
It was there on the first day of school that I met Richard Warren Brown. We all were wearing required attire: white shoes, white pants and white jackets buttoned up to the neck.
I soon found out Brown and I had a lot in common. We liked to study hard, party hard and had an attraction for neon signs.
I began to invite Brown to my parents’ house for dinner where I was living in a big two-story house with my two older brothers and my sister.
Dad immediately took to Brown as he reminded him of his youth. Mom adopted Brown because he liked the special dishes that she made for him as he ate everything except the napkin.
Brown and I were always short money-wise, and I remember us going to the Rio Grande for a late dinner. It was the middle of the month. We both ate and when we went to pay discovered we were both broke. The cashier promptly took our wrist watches and held them for ransom.
We went fishing close to Pelican Island by what is now the Pelican Island Bridge. We hit a school of fish and were catching them two at a time. We caught so many we didn’t want to wet the car so Brown got some clothesline twine that I had in the trunk and made a stringer. He tied all the fish to the back bumper as we were going to sell all the fish to the Senate Restaurant. Brown stopped the car across the street and in front of the Brown Mule Tavern.
The sign said, “Cold Beer & Wine.” He said we needed to replenish fluids and deserved a beer. One beer led to another and much later, when we went outside dozens of stray junkyard dogs were having a banquet and ate all the fish. All that was left were fish heads and the stringer.
Brown loved research, demonstrated by his working 41 years of long hours at UTMB.
He traveled to Europe and throughout the United States with Dr. Robert Cooley demonstrating his project of filming arterial circulation in the body.
He was using film that fighter planes used for reconnaissance, using a special high rotating motor for the shutter.
He was respected for his research and articles.
My friend and adopted brother died Dec. 12. I and many men and boys were raised with the code that “men don’t cry.” That fact did not stand up.
At the rosary at Malloy, relatives, grandchildren, friends, policemen, past friends and fellow hospital workers all shed tears as stories were told about his life.
We are all going to cherish the stories and adventures of Brown. His children and grandchildren all call me “Uncle Ruiz.” I am proud and cherish this.
Hey, Richard, when Saint Peter hears about you, ask him to save a spot for me. Any good fishing up there?
Liborio C. Ruiz lives in Galveston.