Chris Brown, 1955-2022
Chris Brown, a Project Manager in Freese and Nichols’ Energy Group in Dallas for more than 11 years, died Oct. 26 at age 67. He had been ill for several years with cardiac cancer but continued engaging with coworkers and assisting clients, including serving as Project Manager for three of our projects — in Colorado, Georgia and South Dakota — helping dairies convert cow waste into renewable natural gas.
An engineer with more than 40 years in the industry, Chris joined Freese and Nichols in 2011 when we acquired the Nicol & Associates firm. He was Oil and Gas Group Manager in 2017-19.
“Chris was a good, solid guy, a good family guy and a good engineer,” said Kevin Johnson, North Texas Division Manager. “Clients enjoyed working with him.”
Chris was born in Missouri, and he and his wife, Rebecca, lived in Sherman. He was a father and grandfather, an avid gardener who built his own hydroponic greenhouse, and a softball umpire who officiated for college, high school, Olympic-level teams and at the Canada Cup. Chris and his wife also officiated at high school volleyball matches, including at the Texas state playoffs. And he loved his 2016 red Mustang.
Dennis Brown called Chris “a super nice guy” and the type who chose the stairs over the elevator.
The Browns traveled extensively, ranging from Ireland, France and the Netherlands to Israel, Egypt and Viet Nam. Their favorite trip was to Cape Town, South Africa. They often stayed in bed-and-breakfasts in private homes, which allowed them to visit with local residents.
“They engaged in the culture” and made lasting friendships along the way, Ross Ward said.
The Browns also decorated their home elaborately for Christmas and would host the group for a holiday party. Colleagues said Chris and Rebecca were devoted to each other, and she was instrumental in discovering the tumor in his heart. His treatment included chemotherapy then two open-heart surgeries 14 months apart. Yet, he would return to work as quickly as he could.
“It was a lot, and I never heard him complain,” Ross said. “His resilience to go through that with the attitude he did was a testament to who he was.”
Dan McKenzie, who followed Chris as manager of the group, said he “enjoyed bringing young people along and training them.”
Jim Koss offered an example of that. He recalled that among his first pipeline projects was one that Chris landed, then passed on to him. “He was good at giving people opportunities,” Jim said.
Chris had a background in telecommunications. But at Freese and Nichols, he focused on natural gas and oil pipeline design, facility design and construction management activities. He had extensive experience using software to simulate and troubleshoot natural gas, water and oil gathering systems.
Among his most significant projects involved design of a natural gas gathering system for a client operating in the Barnett Shale area of northwest Texas. Colleagues said his relationship with a company handling land work for Freese and Nichols pipeline projects helped lead the company into the biogas field.
“He was a top-notch pipeline engineer,” Aaron Hanks said.
Chris received a master’s degree in engineering from Southern Methodist University, an MBA from The University of Texas at Austin and a bachelor’s in engineering from the University of Missouri.