If you ever spent time chatting with Edgar T. Brown, chances are he would ask you for the names and birthdates of your parents and grandparents. Weeks or months later, an unsolicited envelope would arrive in the mail. Inside would be a window into your family's past: Brown had traced your roots as far back as he could.
"He did hundreds of people," said his son, Jeff . "He felt like everybody needed to know their ancestry and be proud of that, and most people don't know how to do it."
Brown - who traced his own family's roots in Virginia to the 1680s - was long considered the unofficial historian of Virginia Beach and Princess Anne County. He died early Wednesday morning of a chronic lung disease. He was 72.
A lifelong resident of the area, Brown amassed one of the largest collections of Virginia Beach memorabilia and artifacts. Some of the 10,000 pieces - including postcards, letters, artwork and advertisements - already have been donated for display. The family plans to preserve the rest and pass them down.
Last year, Brown was honored when the mayor proclaimed Oct. 16, 2004, "Edgar Brown Day" in Virginia Beach.
You can read more about this remarkable man at http://home.hamptonroads.com/stories/story.cfm?story=87939&ran=10553. You can also visit his web site at http://www.vbresearchers.com.