By Tyler Schneider
Martin City native and former Grandview Alderman, Ronald Allen Brownlee, passed away unexpectedly on Nov. 26 at age 62.
Born in Kansas City, Missouri on April 18, 1960 to James Brownlee and Janette Lueb, Brownlee grew up in Martin City and graduated from Grandview High School in 1978. He married his high school sweetheart, Denise (Davila), on June 4, 1983, and is survived by three children, Danielle, Joshua, and Jared and their spouses.
“My dad was always there to help family, friends, and sometimes people he didn’t even know at a moment’s notice,” Josh Brownlee said of his late-father. “I remember one time at city hall this guy was there with no shirt and my dad literally took the shirt off of his back and gave it to him. You hear that story all the time, but that’s just the kind of man he was.”
Brownlee began work with the Jackson County Public Water Supply District No. 1 in Grandview immediately after graduating from GHS. Over the course of 30 years of service with the department, he rose to become a Class A CDL Water Operator. He had also logged service with the U.S. Postal Service, and was later a local businessman and entrepreneur who had a passion for hunting, fishing, and automobiles.
In 2020, Brownlee entered another realm of public service as he ran against, and ultimately ousted, longtime Grandview Ward 3 Alderman James Crain from the seat the latter had held since 1980. Running on a platform of bringing new businesses to Grandview in part by filling vacant properties, Brownlee would go on to become an instrumental advocate for the popular effort to attract a second grocery store to the city.
Grandview Alderwoman Debbie Bibbs said she was still “in shock,” describing her former colleague as “a great guy, laid back, and easygoing.” “I was just really honored to serve with him,” Bibbs said, noting that the board will continue to work on making Brownlee’s dream of a second grocery store a reality.
Throughout his term, Brownlee worked tirelessly in support of several local organizations including the Grandview Assistance Program, Uplift, and the Chamber of Commerce—through which he had helped provide financial assistance to Grandview businesses through the CARES Act during the height of the pandemic. He also took pride in his partnership with McKeever’s Price Chopper and three local associated food pantries, with whom he worked to provide holiday meals for local families in need.
“Ron Brownlee was a wonderful person, as well an honest and thoughtful Alderman for the City of Grandview. Ron loved Grandview and his service made the city a better place. I send my deepest sympathies and prayers to the Brownlee family,” Grandview Mayor Leonard Jones told The Telegraph.
Many more will mourn for and honor Brownlee’s life tomorrow, Dec. 2, including his siblings, Karen Wallace and Debbie McKeever, and six grandchildren: Treston, Alex, Lucas, Leah, Gabriel, and James Brownlee.
Tomorrow’s services will be held at The View (13500 Byars Rd, Grandview, MO, 64030) with visitation from 3-5 p.m., with a Celebration of Life to follow from 5-6 p.m. Brownlee’s family has requested that anyone interested in making contributions to his memory may make those out to Uplift or GAP (Grandview Assistance Program).