For 100th birthday, A.G. man plans to take the plunge

Lorin Brown of Arroyo Grande plans to celebrate his 100th birthday Sunday, July 6, by jumping out of an airplane.
Lorin Brown of Arroyo Grande plans to celebrate his 100th birthday Sunday, July 6, by jumping out of an airplane. dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

For a guy who’s about to jump out of a plane at about 10,000 feet, Arroyo Grande resident Lorin J. Brown is surprisingly relaxed.

“I’m not concerned a bit,” Brown said while sitting on his deck the other day, drinking in a view of rural Arroyo Grande.

Is he scared of heights? Nah.

Perhaps it helps that Brown has had a year to prepare for this day. The idea was hatched when Brown turned 99. Some friends suggested he skydive on his 100th birthday.

“As I thought and talked more about it, I thought that would be a nice way to spend my 100th birthday — if I got to it,” Brown said.

Well — he got to it.

Brown — who was born July 6, 1914, on a farm in central Kansas — turns 100 years old Sunday.

Growing up, Brown’s family farmed wheat and kept cows and chickens. Brown left Kansas at 22 years old to attend the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn.

But marriage to Eunice Brown in 1936 interrupted those plans, and Lorin Brown eventually went to work for American Airlines as a flight dispatcher.

The couple lived in Indianapolis, Ind.; Fort Worth, Texas; and Los Angeles before he retired in 1972. The couple moved to Arroyo Grande, a town they discovered while camping at Lopez Lake.

Eunice Brown died 12 years ago; the couple was together for about 67 years, Lorin Brown said.

In past years, he kept busy with volunteer work at the library in Arroyo Grande and the Clark Center for the Performing Arts. He also bowls weekly in Pismo Beach as part of a senior league. With a chuckle, he shared the team’s name: Lorin’s Angels.

“There happens to be three ladies on my team, and there’s only four team members,” he explained.

He met Arroyo Grande resident Rubi Degener while volunteering at the library. Over the past nine years, the couple traveled together, went on several cruises and saw many local plays. Degener died in April.

On Saturday, several dozen friends and family will gather at his home to celebrate his birthday. By 10 a.m. the next morning, he’ll be strapped into an aircraft, heading thousands of feet into the air before, as Brown put it, “they push me out.”

He chose a tandem jump with Skydive Santa Barbara in Lompoc.

Brown thanked his family for “going to so much trouble,” and added that they’re making the right call by holding the party first and the skydive second, “just in case it doesn’t go well.”

Brown seemed to downplay all the fuss being made over his celebratory jump.

“It’s not a big thing,” he said, adding, “It might be so much fun we might do it again.”