Ex shipyard CEO dies

Jan 6, 2014 by Guest Writer

Former Knight & Carver CEO Sam Brown died Nov. 21 after a battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 55.

His friends and former colleagues remember him as a fighter, a scrapper and an agitator. He embraced challenges and never settled for the easy way out.

Legally trained with business experience, he became CEO of the Southern California shipyard Knight & Carver and was tireless in expanding its yacht repair division and later in promoting its wind-blade companies.

“He was absolutely relentless and passionate in the pursuit of his goals,” said Mike O’Leary, who served alongside Mr. Brown as a top executive with Knight & Carver Maritime. “He was one of the smartest, shrewdest people I’ve ever known.”

Born and raised near Boston, Mr. Brown earned his undergraduate degree in finance from the University of Miami. He then moved to San Diego where he earned his law degree from California Western University School of Law.

“The man could be infuriating, but you’d end up laughing with him afterward,” said Kate Pearson, who worked with Mr. Brown as Knight & Carver Maritime’s marketing director. “He was like a force of nature.”

During his tenure with Knight & Carver, he oversaw construction of the M80 Stiletto, the world’s largest all-carbon-fiber vessel, an 88-foot Navy stealth craft that cruised at 65 knots and left virtually no wake. He also led the company’s emerging wind-blade division, which he spun off as a separate enterprise in 2007. Within a year, Knight & Carver Wind Group grew to be an $18 million concern with more than 250 employees. He later served as a legal consultant for BAE Systems in San Diego.

“He was always a strong voice for what he believed in,” said Sharon Cloward, president of the San Diego Port Tenants Association, which Mr. Brown helped create in the 1980s. “Once you got to know him, he had a big heart. You couldn’t help but admire him.”

Mr. Brown is survived by his wife Maureen; son Joseph, a student at the University of Arizona; and daughter Britney, a student at Torrey Pines High School. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the Sampson A. Brown Memorial Fund for the Monarch School.

—  John Freeman