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Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Museum & Library Adds New Board Members, Elects President

The Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Museum & Library Foundation is ramping up for the full round of four big events planned to celebrate Veterans Day Weekend in Santa Barbara: the high-profile Military Ball and marathons on Saturday, Nov. 9, with the free parade down State Street at noon followed by a free concert at First Presbyterian Church of Santa Barbara on Sunday. Meanwhile, the Board of Trustees has announced the addition of three new board members and a new board president.

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Phil Conran, who has been a Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Museum & Library Foundation board member for four years, was elected president of the board to succeed John W. Blankenship.

Phil Conran
Phil Conran

Conran’s career in the Air Force began in 1953. A command pilot with more than 6,000 hours in single- and multiengine fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters, he served in Vietnam and earned 15 awards — including the Air Force Cross, ranked as the second highest award an airman can receive. He retired with the rank of colonel in 1988.

Employed in 1989 by Fluidyne Engineering Corp., he served as president of Calidyne Corp. in Minneapolis until the company was sold in 1993.

Conran is a member of the Legion of Valor of the United States of America Inc., which he joined in 1970 and served as national commander 2000-2001, and he continues to serve as national adjutant since 2001.

He moved to Santa Barbara with his wife of 54 years, Margaret (Tierney) Conran, in 2000 after retiring in Florida for six years and experiencing three hurricanes. He served on the Santa Barbara Navy League Board for several years and is currently on the American-Irish Historical Society board. The Conrans have four children and eight grandchildren.

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Sheriff Bill Brown joins the Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Museum & Library Foundation board to replace Phil Conley, who is moving to the Advisory Board.

Sheriff Bill Brown
Sheriff Bill Brown

Brown was elected as Santa Barbara County’s Sheriff-Coroner in 2006 and continues to serve in this position. He began his law enforcement career in 1977 with the Pacifica Police Department in the San Francisco Bay Area. He served the Inglewood Police Department from 1980 to 1992 when he became police chief in Moscow, Idaho. In 1995, Brown was selected to be police chief for Lompoc. He led the Lompoc Police Department for the next 11 years until being elected to his present office.

Earning a bachelor’s degree in management from the University of Redlands in 1987, he received a master’s degree in public administration from USC in 1995.

He currently is chairman of the Santa Barbara County Law Enforcement Chiefs and is executive director of the Santa Barbara County Regional Narcotic Enforcement Team. He also serves as an elected officer for the California State Sheriffs’ Association, and both Govs. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jerry Brown appointed him as a commissioner on the state Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission.

The community boards he’s active with include the North County Rape Crisis & Child Protection Center and Santa Barbara Domestic Violence Solutions, the Anti-Defamation League, United Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara County, and as an American Red Cross ambassador for the local chapter. He is also a steering committee member for both the Santa Barbara County Re-entry Project and the Santa Barbara Council on Alcoholism & Drug Abuse's “Fighting Back," and also sits on the Lompoc Hospital District Board of Trustees.

Brown and his wife, Donna, have been married for 33 years and have three grown children. He has a strong interest in military history and an extensive collection of World War II memorabilia. 

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Michael Cook recently joined the Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Museum & Library Foundation board. A writer and an independent producer in the giant screen IMAX film format, he was in the Army in Vietnam from 1969 to 1971 as a sergeant E-5, combat infantry squad leader, and received the Purple Heart. He serves as the commander of local chapter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart (2011-2013).

Michael Cook
Michael Cook

Cook spent seven years (1998-2004) as an advisory board member for the proposed Ventura County Discovery Center in Thousand Oaks and from 2001-2004 he was a member of the Community Investments Committee for the United Way of Santa Barbara County.

Cook and his wife, Sally Irving, moved to this area in 1996. He headed up the Montecito Association from 1998 to 2004 and served on the Montecito Association’s community board from 2007 to 2013. In New York City, he was a co-op board member at the Cooks' Upper Eastside residence from 1988 to 1994.

He graduated from New York University with a B.F.A. in film production.

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Edward J. Dewey joins the Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Museum & Library Foundation board.

Ed Dewey
Ed Dewey

Dewey’s career in the military spanned 26 years. It began when he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army Field Artillery upon graduation from the West Point Military Academy in 1967. He also holds a Master's degree in Diplomatic History from the University of Virginia (’73).

Dewey’s last assignment was chief of plans for the Army in Europe, where he was responsible for the planning and execution of deployment of the Army’s VII Corps, with more than 93,000 troops from Germany to Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

He retired from the Army in 1993 and immediately joined Fidelity National Financial (NYSE: FNF), the leading title insurance company in the United States. He rose in positions of increasing importance in a 20-year career to culminate as president of Fidelity National Technology Imaging Co., a subsidiary of FNF. 

Dewey and his wife, Janet, have lived in Santa Barbara for 14 years.

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Other board members continuing to serve include Hazel and John Blankenship, Earl Clark, Marilyn Gilbert, Jack Harris, Adam Lewis, Fred Lopez, Jose Ramirez and Bob Zeman.

— Maureen McFadden is a publicist representing the Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Museum & Library Foundation.

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