Alumni Spotlight: Jim Brown '88and Katelyn Green '17

A PBC event connects an alumna with her deceased father's roommate
James Brown '88 and Katelyn Green '17 connect at a President's Business Council event in Boston.
James Brown '88 and Katelyn Green '17 connect at a President's Business Council event in Boston.

As the Disney ride proclaims, “It’s a small world after all.” That statement certainly holds true for Jim Brown ’88 and Katelyn Green ’17, who recently discovered they have much more in common than their University of Scranton educations.

While the Regional Networking Trips The University of Scranton President’s Business Council organizes are always occasions to remember for their student and alumni participants, they have rarely turned out to be life-altering events. A recent excursion to Boston, however, gave Brown and Green the opportunity to reminisce about a deceased alumnus they both care deeply for: Tim Green ’88, Katie’s father and Brown’s former housemate, who passed away suddenly in 1994.

How did these two members of the Scranton family, who had never met before the Boston trip, come to discover their unexpected bond, especially given the ubiquity of their surnames?

Apparently, it is a small world after all, especially in Scranton.

Although Brown grew up in Short Hills, New Jersey, a few hours away from campus, he was spiritually connected to The University of Scranton his whole life: His father, Thomas, grew up in the Hill section of Scranton and graduated from the University in 1955 before earning a master’s degree from Fordham University. Thomas was far from Brown’s only connection to a Jesuit education, however: His late uncle, Edward Brown, S.J., served with Joseph A. Panuska, S.J., in Washington, D.C., prior to Panuska’s tenure as University of Scranton president. When Brown was a child, he often visited his Scranton relatives, and when the time came to pursue a college education, Scranton’s proximity to his hometown and its emphasis on Jesuit ideals appealed to him.

Brown majored in finance and has worked for Bank of America and its legacy organizations since 1990. Today, he resides in Dover, Massachusetts, with his wife, Jean, and their three children: Kerrianne, Ryan and William. As the head of digital marketing for Bank of America, he regularly combines his love of finance and economics with his marketing, technological and management skills.

“Ensuring that we’re putting people in the right positions and the right spots to be successful … that’s the key to success, as far as I’m concerned,“ he said.

Brown met Green in 1984, when they were both first-year students living in McCourt Hall.

 “He was full of life,” Brown said of the elder Green. “He lit up the room. You always wanted him to be around, no matter what you were doing.”

By the time they were juniors, Brown and Green, along with a few other friends, lived together in a house on Quincy Ave. After graduation, they kept in touch.

“We had annual gatherings,” Brown said. “A number of my very good friends from The University of Scranton still get together once a year.

“Tim was a big part of that the first few years out of school.”

After graduation, Tim met and married Christine, Katie’s mother, and the couple settled in the Buck’s County area, where Katie and her two older brothers grew up. Tragedy struck when Tim passed away a few short months before Katie was born.

“It was a sudden death,” Green said of his passing. “His heart was beating so fast it just stopped.”

Although Katie was primarily interested in the University because of her father’s connection to it, a visit to campus convinced her it was the right place for her.

“I fell in love with the campus,” she said. “The tour guides really sold me on it – it’s just a beautiful place.”

As a marketing major with a minor in operations management about to graduate in a few weeks, Katie was no stranger to the PBC’s regional trips, and she decided to attend the Boston outing to make a few connections and see the city. Brown, who has attended several similar functions over the years, nearly didn’t go as it followed another social engagement the same evening, but, ultimately, his commitment to his alma mater prevailed over his biological need for rest.

“I think what (PBC Executive Director) Tim (Pryle ’89) does with that group is fabulous,” Brown said. “I try to make it a point to go to that meeting in particular, when they make the visit

“Sometimes, some of those kids are really shy, so I was walking around speaking with groups of kids and handing out my business card. I was speaking with (Katie). We all have a nametag on with our graduation year, and at one point, she said, ‘So, 1988 – my dad graduated in 1988.’ I said, ‘Oh, no kidding?’ And she said, ‘Yeah – Tim Green.’ I said, ‘Excuse me?’ I literally paused, and what went through my mind was, ‘Wait a second – there must be more than one Tim Green. She can’t be talking about the Tim Green that I knew.’”

“He was completely taken aback by it,” Katie said. “He said, ‘I lived with your father.’ I was completely speechless – I didn’t know really what was going on (and was) trying to process everything that was happening. We pretty much talked about my dad the rest of the night until he left.”

“I was speechless for a bit,” Brown said. “When one of those life events happens, there are a million thoughts that go through your mind in about 10 seconds. That’s what was going on at that moment, but at the end of it, I was just very happy to have been there that night and to have met Tim’s daughter. The fact of the matter is I thought she had something special about her, believe it or not, before I even knew who she was. That’s why I was speaking with her – she seemed like someone who was very mature, was asking great questions and was very professional.

“I said to myself, ‘Of course you’re Tim’s daughter.’”

Although Green had heard a great deal about her father’s life from her family, Brown’s insight into his college days filled in some of the missing pieces she had wondered about her whole life.

“I didn’t know a lot about my dad in college since my mom didn’t know him then,” she said. “I learned … that he enjoyed Scranton as much as I did. It made me feel closer to him.”

The two exchanged contact information, and Brown soon sent Katie pictures of Tim that she had never seen before.

“I look a lot like my mom, but I didn’t realize I (also) look a lot like my dad,” Katie said. (My brother is) the spitting image of my dad, so it’s cool to see that I have some of that, too.”

And, given the “small world” reality of Scranton life, it didn’t take long for word of their meeting to spread like wildfire.

“I texted my other former roommates, and they were all amazed at the story I was telling,” Brown said. “They were all thrilled that she had persevered through some tough times and that she had gone to her dad’s alma mater.

“You never know (who you’re going to run into). That’s true in so many things. Every meeting, every discussion, every event – you never know what you’re going to get out of it.”

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