Former Houston City Councilman and Civic Leader Peter Brown Passes Away at 81

ABOVE: Former Houston City Councilman Peter Brown

This past Tuesday, December 12th, Houston City Controller Chris Brown took to Twitter to inform the world that his father, and one of Houston’s finest civic leaders, former Houston City Council member Peter Brown, died early Tuesday morning at his home after a long battle with cancer. He was 81.

“A loving father, committed public servant, and fearless advocate, Dad passed on to the next life the same way he lived in this one – surrounded by his family in the city he loved most. Our family would like to thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers, and asks for privacy during this very difficult time.”

Peter Brown, affectionately known by many as “Pedestrian Pete”, was a longtime city leader who was recently honored this past May at Houston City Hall by Houston city leaders because of the impactful legacy he had on the City of Houston, and for his many contributions to city development during his lifetime that improved the Houston community.

Many don’t know the role Peter had in having Dowling Street renamed to Emancipation Avenue, including the recent monetary donation generously given by Peter for the new street signs for Emancipation Avenue. Mayor Sylvester Turner and the members of City Council declared May 30, 2017, as Peter Brown Day in the City of Houston.

Peter was born and raised in Riverside Terrace in Houston and attended St. John’s School. He graduated with a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Houston. He also went on to earn a Master’s degree in Languages from University of California, Berkeley and advanced degrees in Architecture and Urban Planning from the University of Pennsylvania. Peter enlisted in the U.S. Army after graduating from the University of Houston, and he served for six years in the active reserve before receiving an honorable discharge. After the military,

Peter began his career as an architect and urban planner in 1966, working on major projects in the northeast United States. In 1982 he moved back to Houston, and became a partner in an architecture and planning firm. A year later, he launched his own firm, which he grew into a successful national business. In 2003, Brown was elevated to Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, the profession’s highest distinction. As an architect, he helped designed many municipal facilities, including affordable housing and traditional neighborhoods, fire and police stations, parks and recreation centers, jails and courthouses, libraries and health clinics, transit stations, and theaters. As a small businessman and architect, Peter helped build the City of Houston’s economy and its neighborhoods. He worked building parks, police and fire stations, health clinics, and schools in more than 40 Houston neighborhoods, as well as worked on projects in over 20 cities, including Miami, Oklahoma City, Denver, Dallas, San Antonio and Austin.

Besides running his own business Peter was a leader in Houston’s non-profit community, having served on the boards of Habitat for Humanity, Inprint, Trees For Houston, The Main Street Coalition, Blueprint Houston, The Park People, The Gulf Coast Institute, The Houston Grand Opera and many other non-profit organizations. He was also a Co-founder and Director of BetterHouston a non-profit action organization dedicated to better neighborhoods, better transit and better urbanism. In 2005, he won an at-large position on the Houston City Council, and served on Houston City Council from 2006 to 2010. In 2009, he ran an unsuccessful campaign to succeed term-limited Mayor Bill White as the next mayor of Houston, finishing third behind Gene Locke and eventual Mayor Annise Parker.

Prior to his illness, Peter Brown served as an adjunct professor in the Department of Urban Planning & Environmental Policy graduate program at Texas Southern University.

A dedicated family man, Peter Brown leaves five children and 15 grandchildren.

The Forward Times extends its deepest condolences to the family and friends of former Houston City Council Member Peter Brown.