Robert A. "Buster" Brown (born March 25, 1868 in Florence County, South Carolina; died May 11, 1936) was a real estate, loan and insurance executive as president of R. A. Brown & Company and also headed the Alabama State Fair & Exhibit Association which managed the Alabama State Fairgrounds.
Brown was the son of John J. and Mary Elizabeth Exum Brown. The elder Brown, a veteran of the Confederacy, was a farmer and school teacher. Robert grew up helping in the fields and attending county schools before enrolling in the preparatory program at Clinton College in Clinton, South Carolina. Afterward he spent two years teaching primary school to earn enough money to enter the University of South Carolina. He studied pharmacology and registered as a pharmacist on June 17, 1891. He clerked at drug stores in Charleston, South Carolina and Savannah, Georgia, then worked as a traveling salesman for wholesale drug companies in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and New York, New York.
Brown came to Birmingham in December 1903 and accepted a job as salesman for the Birmingham Fertilizer Company, owned by his mother's brother, Culpepper Exum. After two years he left that position to found his own company, with Exum as a partner and offices in the Woodward Building. His real estate, loan and insurance business grew large and successful and Brown involved himself in civic matters through the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and Birmingham Business Men's League. During the 1913 Potlatch, organized to help the city heal from months of political unrest, Brown portrayed "Chief Potlatch" who passed a peace pipe and buried a hatchet in Capitol Park. In 1914 he took over the presidency of the Alabama State Fair & Exhibit Association.
Brown was tapped to chair the executive committee for the 1916 Confederate Reunion hosted in Birmingham. As president of the Chamber of Commerce, Brown served on the executive committee that worked with the Birmingham City Commission to plan for construction of a Municipal Auditorium. On December 6, 1918 he was elected president of the American Association of Fairs and Expositions during their meeting in Chicago, Illinois.
Brown died at home after a long illness in May 1936.
- Cruikshank, George H. (1920) History of Birmingham and Its Environs: A Narrative Account of Their Historical Progress, Their People, and Their Principal Interests 2 volumes. Chicago, Illinois: Lewis Publishing Company. - via Birmingham Public Library Digital Collections