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After John “Jack” Brown funeral, I met several of his girlfriends and his daughter at a diner next to the funeral home. His daughter, Katherine, knew he had female friends but was surprised by how many and the feelings they had for her dad. Their reverence, admiration, and conviction impressed me. Jack had a strong, commanding presence. My biggest disappointment was not meeting him.

I wrote a feature on Jack, which my editor reduced to about a tenth of its original size. I found it very hard to keep the article brief, after listening to these women. My original story would have covered about three-quarters of a page. I knew this was more than any newspaper would permit, but I believed Jack’s story was something special.

A couple days after my editor dismantled my article, I decided to write this book about Jack Brown. Everyone at the diner that evening agreed to contribute a story, and Katherine mentioned his secretary, Gail Ledbetter, who agreed to help chronicle his life. Each chapter is the story told by the women who knew him. The stories are a combination of verbal interviews and letters written to me. I tried to maintain the narrative of the women as expressed to me. Their written accounts of Mr. Brown’s life are as accurate as they can remember.