Section of Providence Road dedicated to late Columbia native

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COLUMBIA - Sherman Brown Jr., who was known as the fun-loving owner of Lindsey Rentals and for his extensive community involvement, has become a permanent piece of Columbia, a city he spent his entire life in.

The stretch of Providence Road between Interstate 70 and the I-70 Business Loop was renamed the Sherman Brown Jr. Memorial Highway with an unveiling ceremony Tuesday evening. 

Brown passed away at 65 in August 2016, after battling liver and colon cancer. His younger brother, Danny Brown, wanted to get the stretch of road named after Sherman because it's where they grew up as children.

Danny Brown passed away earlier this year, but not before State Rep. Kip Kendrick, D-Columbia, proposed a bill to the Missouri House in mid-February to create the Sherman Brown Jr. Memorial Highway.

When Kendrick first proposed the bill, he said he sent out a call for Columbia residents to send in letters for support, and the response was overwhelming.

"I got a tremendous amount," Kendrick said. "So many that the committee chair didn’t want them all printed out, he just wanted a record of who all sent letters of support because there were so many."

The bill to change the name of a portion of the state-owned road passed 135-0 in the Missouri House and was later amended into two bills and both were signed into law by Gov. Eric Greitens.

More than 100 of Sherman's family and friends showed up for the dedication, something that took Kendrick by surprise.

"I was a little bit shocked by the turnout, but it’s indicative of who he was and the support that he had in Columbia," Kendrick said. "Sherman was a fixture in Columbia, he was a businessman, served in the armed forces, he was a mentor to so many, you name it, he did it."

Sherman was born in Boone County Hospital and was a graduate of Hickman High School. He began working at Lindsey Rentals as a senior in high school in 1968, bought the store in 1980 with Bill Spry and worked there until his death.

He was known for being involved in the community, especially in providing guidance and advice to young people in Columbia, whom he mentored for four decades. He garnered many community awards and recognition, including a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Youth Empowerment Zone at its 2016 "Black Men Rock" Dinner. 

Sherman's wife, Vicki Brown, spoke at the event and could hardly put into words what it meant to her and her family.

"It’s indescribable. It truly is," Brown said. "We’re so grateful and thankful for what Kip did and it just means everything to us that people care that much for him. He loved everyone, he loved his community and it’s just incredible to see his name up there."

Vicki Brown said her husband wouldn't understand why he was being honored Tuesday night, but would have been extremely thankful.

"Sherman did what he did because he loved it. He would not have expected anything like this," Vicki Brown said. "Even when he was sick and people came to him and were concerned about him, he just said ‘what did I do for all of this?’ when he received all the love he got. The community loved him and he had so many great relationships with so many people here."