Edward John Brown III

April 3, 2023

Edward “Ed” John Brown III, age 74 of Charlotte, North Carolina, went to his heavenly rest on April 3, 2023, after a courageous battle against Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Ed was a devoted husband, father, brother, and friend. He will be missed dearly.

Born April 28, 1948, in Savannah, Georgia, Ed was the son of the late Edward John Brown, Jr. and the late Esther Ryan Brown. He attended Savannah’s Sacred Heart Catholic School before following in his father’s footsteps to enroll at Benedictine Military School, where he graduated high school in 1966. A gifted and dedicated student, Ed attended Georgia Institute of Technology, earning a B.S. in Industrial Management, and was then accepted to Harvard Business School, where in 1972 he completed an MBA in Finance.

During his studies, Ed married Kathleen Kenney in 1970 and later had two daughters, Emily and Allison. Upon graduation from Harvard, he accepted a position as a credit analyst at North Carolina National Bank (NCNB) in 1972. Through hard work and determination, Ed climbed the corporate ladder at NCNB, holding various leadership positions. He spearheaded the effort for NCNB to integrate corporate banks in Dallas and Atlanta, which formed NationsBank in December 1991. In his first two decades at the bank, he paused only for a three-month military leave to serve his country in the U.S. Army.

Ed married the love of his life, Jan Hall, in 1989.  They moved to San Francisco in 1998 when Bank of America and NationsBank merged. In 2000, he was named president of Global Corporate Investment Banking, a position he held until his retirement from Bank of America in 2004 after 32 years of service.

While living in San Francisco, Ed and Jan fell in love with the Napa Valley. In 2004, they bought a home in Napa, and in 2007 they established a beautiful 7.5-acre Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard.

In 2010, Ed came out of retirement when Rick Hendrick asked him to lead Hendrick Automotive Group, the largest privately held operator of automobile dealerships in the United States. He served as the company’s president and CEO for nine years before retiring “for good” in 2019.

“I felt blessed to have many amazing mentors throughout my life and there are six that stand out,” Ed said. “It began with my dad, who focused on the importance of academics, hard work and winning. Hugh McColl, Jr. mentored me while at the bank, instilling leadership skills. He taught me hard work gets deals done.  “My friend, Loy McKeithen, continued lessons on hard work, giving to others, and how to have a great time at a Carolina Panthers football game. David Fox, friend and colleague, showed me the importance of using data to change people. His famous motto was, ‘You either change people, or you change people.’ While serving under Rick Hendrick, he taught me about the joy of giving back to others.  Gene Woods, who has been like a brother to me, reinforced the lesson of servant leadership.”

In June 2021, Ed was diagnosed with an aggressive form of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, which he was determined to beat. To everyone who surrounded him, he proved his strength and stamina daily and handled each bump in the road with remarkable grace.

Ed was well known for his passion, generosity, and work with charitable organizations, especially those that support education and medical advancements. For nineteen years, he was a member of the Board of Commissioners for Atrium Health. For the last nine years he was chairman of Board of Commissioners at Atrium Health.  Additionally, he served as a member of the board for Bojangles and the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco. Ed was chairman of the PGA Tour Golf Course Properties board and lead trustee for Longleaf Foundation. He was a proud member of the Hibernian Society of Savannah since 1997.

Ed is survived by his beloved wife of 33 years, Jan Hall Brown; daughter, Emily Brown (Billy Candler); daughter, Allison Brown Rau (Jake Rau); grandchildren, Jake Rau and Ansley Rau; sister, Kathleen Brown Higgs (Michael); nephew, Keith Parker (Diane); sister-in-law, Meg Hall Rallings (Dean); and many more nieces and nephews.

Preceding Ed in death were his father, Edward John Brown, Jr., and mother, Esther Ryan Brown; older sister, Margaret Brown Parker; brother-in-law, John Parker; niece, Pamela E. Parker; brother-in-law, Pat Hall, Jr.; and brother-in-law, Fred Neal Hall II.

Jan, Emily and Allison wish to express their heartfelt love and gratitude to those who are also mourning. Ed gave them and so many others strength in times of trouble and wisdom in times of uncertainty. He will forever be the inspiration for Jan, Emily, Allison, and the Brown family.

The Browns would like to extend special appreciation to Ed’s tireless doctors: Nilanjan Ghosh (hematology), Scott Lindblom (pulmonary), Geoffrey Rose (cardiology), and Lorri Ayers (internal medicine). Additionally, the family offers sincere gratitude to dear friends Betty Lee, who postponed her retirement plans to help with Ed’s care, and Anita McClary, who made the countless hospital trips bearable.

For their extraordinary kindness and care, the family also thanks the 4T doctors and nurses at Atrium, the nurses and therapists at Atrium’s Rehabilitation Center, Ed’s Atrium Health at Home therapists and nurse, and his private care nurse team.

Throughout his battle with cancer, Ed felt truly blessed by the outpouring of support and love from friends. Each card, visit and phone call brought him great happiness and encouragement.

Love is not an easy feeling to describe or put into words, nor is loyalty, trust, or joy. Ed embodied all of these words. He taught us about love, loyalty, trust, and friendship. He taught us the gift of unselfishly giving back. He will always be by our side.

A visitation will be held Tuesday, April 11, from 5:00 to 6:30 p.m. followed by a Rosary Service at 7:00 p.m. at St. Gabriel’s Catholic Church. The Mass of Christian Burial will be held Wednesday, April 12, at 11 a.m. at St. Gabriel’s. The service will be live streamed at: www.stgabrielchurch.org/livefunerals. Interment will follow at Evergreen Cemetery. 

In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made either to: Edward J. Brown, Jr. Scholarship Fund at Benedictine Military School, 6202 Seawright Drive, Savannah, GA 31406, or Ed and Jan Brown Lymphoma Research Fund, c/o Atrium Health Foundation, 208 East Boulevard, Charlotte, NC 28203.

Arrangements are in the care of Kenneth W. Poe Funeral & Cremation Service, 1321 Berkeley Ave., Charlotte, NC; 28204 (704) 641-7606.  Online condolences can be shared at www.kennethpoeservices.com.

Share your memories & condolences


  • Tyler V Grady

    I had the great pleasure of working with Ed for a number of years. I just saw this and am completely devistated. He was such a special human being. So many good times spent with Ed. He was an outstanding mentor. I truly miss him. I feel terrible for his family. Home way too soon. Miss you my friend.

  • Robert Ryan

    Godspeed Butchie.
    May Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord. And let perpetual light shine upon him. May the soul of the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen.

  • Fr. John A. Caparisos

    Eddie was a classmate and dear friend. He was caring, and generous. I'll certainly miss
    him at the Hibernian Banquet, which he usually attended every year on St. Patrick's Day.
    My prayers and deepest condolences to his family.
    May his Memory be Eternal!

  • Hannah Crouthamel

    Jan, Dave and I have loved you and Ed for decades and our hearts go out to you in sorrow and loss. We will miss Ed so very much, we shared laughter and joy, sorrow and loss; he was always a rock upon whom we relied. His calmness and compassion in times of stress helped us get through the rough patches in life. His unending curiosity and need to constantly learn from others were inspirational. This man with such a beautiful brain was always trying to improve life of those less fortunate and to understand their challenges. Not many men of his stature would care, but he did. He embodied all that is good in the human spirit and we feel so honored to have called him a friend. We miss him already, but his spirit is close to us and his influence will be felt in our lives forever. Thank you Eddie for inhabiting this planet and making it a better place.

  • Deborah Carelock

    He was a wonderful person and very thoughtful of others. Thanks for sharing him with us. And your family is in our thoughts and prayers.

  • Kathleen Brown Higgs

    To my brother Edward, I just found out two months ago from Emily that you were very sick and I continually prayed for your salvation, peace, and comfort. By your choice, we missed out on having a relationship but hopefully in the next lifetime in heaven we will get to know each other and have a wonderful relationship. A miracle occurred when you called me a week before you died and it was an answer to prayer. Butch, I hope you have found peace and are in the presence of our Heavenly Father.
    I love you brother, Kathleen

  • Roger Elmore

    God speed, E.B.

  • Fr. Francis Higgins

    May Ed Rest In Peace with the Risen Lord of life.
    His family are in my thoughts and prayers.
    Fr. Higgins

  • Tana Harwood

    I worked with Ed at NCNB and found him always be kind and thoughtful. He was a true gentleman in every way. I am sure his family will miss him.

  • Bek Blake

    We will miss Ed's exuberance at Panthers tailgating and his front yard in December!

    Bek and Tom Blake

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