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In Memoriam: Thomas M. Brownlee, CCE

Published Friday, August 22, 2014

Past ACCE Board Chairman Thomas M. Brownlee, CCE, passed away August 7 in Orlando, Fla. He was 87. A Life Member honoree of ACCE, he chaired the association in 1965-66.

“While he was a successful businessman in several fields, his real passion was always with and for the chamber in each of the six cities he worked,” said Brownlee’s son Thomas J. Brownlee of Orlando.

After serving in the U.S. Navy (1944-46), graduating from the University of Nebraska (1950) and then serving in the U.S. Army (1951-52), Brownlee began a lengthy career as a chamber executive in Daytona Beach, Tampa, Tallahassee, Columbia, Winston-Salem, and Orlando.

In 1977, he was invited to the White House as a past president of ACCE to attend a meeting about the national energy crisis. In the following seven weeks, he wrote 2,500 chambers of commerce and organized Orlando's first Metropolitan Energy Conservation Task Force. After reporting back to the White House, President Gerald Ford shook his hand and said with a smile "Mr. Brownlee, you should be in the energy conservation business yourself."

Brownlee took the advice to heart. In 1977 he left his position as Executive V.P. of the Orlando Area Chamber to form a total energy management company, which later became Brownlee Lighting.

Always active in local, regional and national organizations, Brownlee was a natural for politics. He was elected Orlando City Commissioner from 1978-1982, and served as Orlando Mayor Pro-tem. He also served with the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America, eventually becoming its president in 1995-1996.

The family requests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of donations to the Salvation Army-Orlando, Fla.

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