July 19, 2001 – St. Thomas travel trade pioneer Jean Jorgensen Brown Hendricks died Tuesday, July 17, at her home in Nokomis, Fla., from complications due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
The longtime owner of Caribbean Travel Agency on St. Thomas made the island a permanent home for herself and her four daughters after a globe-trotting career that included working with Gen. Douglas MacArthur's staff in Japan following World War II and with Pierre Salinger in Washington, D.C., as a speechwriter during John F. Kennedy's campaign for president.
She was born Jean Jorgensen on May 18, 1923, the youngest of four children of Danish-American and Norwegian-American parents serving with the International Y.M.C.A. in pre-war Tokyo. Educated at the American School in Japan, she finished high school at the Lincoln School of Colombia University Teachers College in New York then went on to earn a B.A. in creative writing from the Women’s College of the University of North Carolina.
From 1944 to 1945 she served as an analyst with the Office of War Information in San Francisco. The following year, as a free-lance writer, she had several short stories published in Collier’s and Liberty magazines.
She returned to Tokyo in 1946 with Army Intelligence as a member of MacArthur’s staff during the U.S. occupation of Japan. There, in 1947, she married Alston Law Brown, a West Point officer and fighter pilot. When he later became attached to the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, Jean wrote a society column for the English-language Asahi Evening News and taught an English course at a local college.
They were later stationed in Arizona, Tennessee, and then Dayton, Ohio, where Brown, then a fighter squadron commander at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, was killed in 1958 in an aircraft accident.
Widowed with four young daughters, Jean moved the family to Washington and worked with Salinger on the 1960 Kennedy campaign. She was spending summers on St. Thomas and became the Washington correspondent for WSTA radio. In 1962, her brother, Reid Jorgensen, a Water Island resident, persuaded her to move to St. Thomas to take over Caribbean Travel Agency, an enterprise in which all four of "the Brown girls" eventually became involved. A year later, she expanded the business, located in Palm Passage, to include Tropic Tours, a land-based travel services provider, and in 1964 she opened the Palm Passage Liquor Store.
During her first two years on the island, she also was the writer for the "Town Crier" news program on WSTA. She wrote the scripts then delivered them to the station's Frenchtown studio for manager Len Stein to review and read.
In 1980, Caribbean Travel became the American Express Travel Services representative on St. Thomas. From 1962 to the present, the agency grew from a two-person enterprise to one with 43 employees.
In 1965, Jean Brown married Jens G. Hendricks, an assistant V.I. police commissioner. He died in 1992. The family lived at No. 7 Estate Solberg until 1994, when Jean left St. Thomas for medical reasons. She recontinued to be involved in the travel agency as an owner and an adviser to those responsible for its day-to-day operations.
She is survived by her daughters: Derryle Berger of Nokomis, Fla.; Brooks Brown of St. Thomas; Tracy Brown of Delray Beach, Fla.; and Courtney Gabrielson of St. Thomas. Also surviving are three sons-in-law, David Berger, Tom Wiggins and Ron Gabrielson; one grandson, Egon Gabrielson; a niece and two nephews.
"Jean truly loved the physical beauty of the Virgin Islands, as well as the warmth and genuineness of the people that live there," her daughter Derryle said. "Through her business and her travels, she always served as an ambassador of her beloved adopted home."
Burial will be at West Point. Plans for a St. Thomas memorial service will be announced.


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