In Memory of My Dear Friend Forrest Brown
By Ellie Hannum Corbett – RMR, CMRS
The court reporting world lost an icon and a legend on May 26th, 2021 when Forrest Matthew Brown, Sr, age 85, passed unexpectedly in Atlanta, Georgia.
You rarely heard the name Forrest stated alone. It was almost always “Forrest and Cindy.” They were inseparable. They were partners in every way. They loved each other dearly, raised a beautiful family, worked side by side, worshipped together, played together, and donated very generously together. Theirs is a true love story. Yes, our beloved Forrest is gone, but he has left a footprint that will never fade.
Forrest is survived by his wife of 35 years, Cindy; his children, Kathie, Matt (Allison), Lorie (Ron), and Mary Lee (Angelo); his grandchildren, Jonathan (Allyx), Sarah, Forrest (Samantha), Joel, Clara, Matthew, and William; and his great-granddaughter, Evangeline. He has another grandson on the way.
Forrest loved his God, Cindy, his children, his country, and his fellow man. If you are familiar with the poem “If” by Rudyard Kipling, that captures the essence of Forrest Brown. The last verse of the poem is: “If you can fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds’ worth of distance run — yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it, and—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!”
Forrest’s life story is one of a humble beginning to great success, and it is a story shared by many of the seasoned court reporters in this wonderful profession. Forrest hales from Powder Springs, GA. He graduated from Acworth High School and attended technical school to train as a stenographer. With basic and advanced shorthand under his belt, he began teaching himself the stenograph machine during a two-year stent in the US Army. In 1962, the Dekalb County Superior Court welcomed him as their new, eager court reporter.
In 1978, as a result of years of freelance reporting, Forrest realized his dream of Brown Reporting, Inc., becoming the largest court reporting firm in the Southeast with six locations and serving some of the nation’s largest law firms. Forrest always was looking ahead and was painfully aware of the ever-increasing shortage of court reporters. So, what does Forrest do? In 1972, Forrest established Brown College of Court Reporting and Medical Transcription, which trained thousands of court reporters over a period of 37 years.
Never one to let any grass grow under his feet, Forrest threw his hat into the much larger arena of medical and legal transcription by establishing wordZXpressed, Inc., in 1992, employing hundreds of employees, providing high-quality transcription services for hundreds of clients across the country, including clinics, hospitals, corporate clients, and the legal community nationally.
He served on the Baron Users Group board in multiple leadership capacities, including president, and provided critical liaison between Baron Data, the company responsible for the burgeoning computerization of stenography and court reporters internationally.
Georgia Shorthand Reporters Association (GSRA) recognized Forrest with the Distinguished Service Award in 2009, the highest honor bestowed for service to the overall court reporting profession in the state of Georgia. In addition, he held multiple offices within the GSRA, culminating as president.
On the national scene, he became a Fellow of the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA). In 2010, in front of thousands of court reporters at the NCRA convention in Chicago, Illinois, NCRA awarded Forrest with the Distinguished Service Award, a lifetime achievement award.
Forrest was a good man. His values were simple: be loving, kind, good, generous, compassionate, help wherever you can, work hard, play hard, and laugh a lot. I am grateful that God took him swiftly, without pain, because if ever a person desired to go to Heaven on the express train, it was this wonderful man. For all who are left, most especially Cindy, our thoughts and prayers are forthcoming, but all will rally because we have Forrest up there watching over us, as always.