Whitefish, Montana , United States
|| December 11, 1947
Feb 06, 2015 04:48am
|Info|| the three decades since he first took public office, Republican Bob Brown has faced some tough challenges. But none compares to the run-in he had in 1998 with Montana�s official state animal: the grizzly bear. |
Bob was hiking in the mountains northwest of his home in Whitefish one summer day when his dog spooked a grizzly that was hiding in thick brush.
�The dog came running right back to Daddy,� Bob recalls, �and when he did, the bear came right after him.�
With the angry grizzly only 30 yards away and coming fast, Bob scrambled up the nearest tree: a limbless, five-inch-thick lodgepole pine.
�If you don�t think an overweight 50-year-old can climb a tree, think again,� he says with a chuckle. �The bear got to the base of the tree just as I shinnied out of his reach.�
After what seemed like an eternity�but was actually only a few minutes�the bear lost interest and wandered back into the thick underbrush. Bob waited a few more minutes before sliding to the ground and heading for his car. Despite the scare, he couldn�t resist taking a few casts at a promising fishing hole that he passed along the way back.
Though he hopes never to tangle with Ursus arctos horribilis ever again, Bob has never been one to flinch from adversity or hard work. In 1970, at the age of 22, he became one of the youngest Montanans ever elected to the state House of Representatives. He served two terms in the House and then, in 1974, was elected to the Senate, where he served with distinction until 1996.
While Bob got little respect from that grizzly bear, he earned the respect of fellow senators, who repeatedly placed him in positions of leadership. He finished his legislative career by serving as Senate president�the youngest member of his party ever elected to that post.
Bob was born in Missoula, Montana, in 1947, and grew up in the Flathead Valley on a grain and cattle ranch. He graduated from Flathead County High School, served a hitch in the Navy, and earned degrees in political science and history from Montana State University in Bozeman. He went on to get a master�s degree in education from the University of Montana in Missoula and then taught government, history, and economics for several years at Bigfork, Whitefish, and Flathead high schools. He also coached speech and debate teams.
Bob�s extensive knowledge of the legislative process and representative democracy, plus his background as a teacher, resulted in his recruitment by a federal program to travel to eastern Europe, Africa, and Asia to advise newly elected leaders in emerging democracies.
In his spare time, Bob is an avid outdoorsman. He has hiked and fished all over northwestern Montana�s wild country, which is one of the few remaining strongholds of the intimidating grizzly. Growing up within view of Glacier National Park has instilled in him a deep appreciation of the flora, fauna, and scenic beauty under Montana�s glorious Big Sky.