David Halbe Brown

David Halbe Brown

Born:February 26, 1936
Youngstown, Ohio

Died:September 13, 2012
Northampton, MA,

Spouse:Jane Norris (Poland, OH)

Children:Jeffrey David
William Thomas
James Norris
David Halbe
Jennifer Lynn

David Halbe Brown (1936-2012), known to Camp Fitchers as “Halbe”, was a camper, dishcrew member, tent leader, Youngstown YMCA Youth Director, Waterfront Director, Boy's Camp Director, and finally Camp Director before moving to the Catskills to run the Frost Valley YMCA.

Halbe was born on February 26, 1936 in Youngstown, OH. He grew up one of seven children to Rev. Thomas and Helene Brown. Halbe gets his name from his mother's maiden name Helene Halbe.[1] Halbe attended Camp Fitch as a child. He worked there as a lower staff member during high school and Waterfront Director during college. After graduating from Youngstown State in June 1958, he was appointed Youth Director of the Youngstown Central YMCA and Boy's Camp Director at Camp Fitch.[2] Joe Check was Camp Director at the time and Paul B. Davies was in his last years as Executive Secretary. He would be one of the first Boy's Camp Directors to face the challenges of simultaneous Co-ed Camping. The next spring (1959) he married Associate Youth Director and Girl's Camp Director Jane Norris. The wedding party included Camp Fitchers Bob Doyle, Jeep McDonald, and Kathy Dalton.[3] [4] Jane Norris is the daughter of Norman L. Norris, who Norris Lodge is named after.[5] A few years later Bob and Kathy would also marry.

Halbe returned as Boy's Camp Director in 1959. His Village Directors that year were David A. Streb, Richard Hunneke, and Randall Leyshon Jr. [6] In December 1960 Swede Hunneke, the new General Secretary of the YMCA, appointed him Director of Camp Fitch for the 1961 Season after Joe Check retired from that post for the second time to become Industrial Secretary.[7] The now vacant post of Boy's Camp Director was filled by Robert "Bob" Doyle. Kathy Dalton returned as Girl's Camp Director for her second year. The 1961 Season started June 18th with a week of staff training, then 3 two week periods for girls, then 4 two week periods for boys. Family Camp ran August 20 to 26. A three day Hi-Y Camp closed the season.[2]

Brown would hold the post of Camp Director through the 1966 season. He hired his future replacement, Bill Lyder as Boy's Camp Director in 1965. Virginia C. Tandler was also promoted to Girl's Camp Director in 1965.[8] Halbe served as Camp Director during the 50th Anniversary of Camp Fitch and saw camp grow by an additional 25 acres in 1965. The trips program was also formalized under his tenure with six campers canoeing in Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario for two weeks in 1965.[9]

At the close of the 1966 camping season he was poached by Frost Valley YMCA in New York to be Executive Director there. He would go on to transform their summer camp into one of the most recognized in the country.[3] With Halbe, flowed Bill Hettler and Bobby Hettler and Camp Fitch Traditions like the Russian Midget Skit and adaptations of the Pygmy Legend. Frost Valley was a 2,000 acre camp operating on $115,000/year with only 6 full time staff members when Halbe took over. He left it a 6,000 acre camp operating on a $6 million budget and hosting 31,000 guests annually.[10] He ran Frost Valley for 35 years and retired to South Barre, VT. Halbe was inducted into the YMCA Hall Of Fame in 2003. He passed away on September 13, 2012 after a long battle with illness and a memorial fund was set up at Frost Valley in his honor.[1]

Camp Timeline

Staff by the telescope mount in 1954

(L to R): ?, Stretch Howard, Joe Greer, Moose Glassier, ?, Halbe Brown, ?, ?, ? (Photo Courtesy of Bill DeCicco, 1954)

  • 1950 Joined Staff
  • 1953 Assistant Waterfront Director
  • 1954-1957 Waterfront Director
  • 1958-1960 Boy's Camp Director
  • 1961-1966 Camp Director


Halbe served under more Camp Directors than most, at least:

Halbe's last year as a lower staff member in 1957 was spent with:

Trivia and Memorable Moments

Our beloved Pygmy Song was actually created by a Frost Valley staff member. If Halbe never would have brought Bobby Hettler to Frost Valley, Bobby would have never introduced them to our legend, and the song would have never made it back to us.

Help us by adding more!

Iconic Imagery

Halbe on the Pier

Halbe was promoted to Waterfront Director due to his extraordinary swimming abilities. Here he is in his natural environment, on the pier, giving swim lessons in the 1950s.

Other Links


1. a, b Times Herald Record, 2012. David Halbe Brown. Dow Jones Local Media Group, Inc.
2. a, b Youngstown Vindicator, February 22, 1961. David Brown Named Camp Fitch Director. Vindicator Printing Company.
3. a, b Leonhart, Al, Novemebr 2012. A Fond Farewell, Y Newsletter Volume 45 Issue 6. Youngstown YMCA.
4. a Youngstown Vindicator, January 17, 1959. YMCA Youth Director, Associate Are Engaged. Vindicator Printing Company.
5. a Youngstown Vindicator, March 15, 1959. Norris-Brown Pledged by Candlelight. Vindicator Printing Company.
6. a Youngstown Vindicator, May 17, 1984. Years Ago. Vindicator Printing Company.
7. a Youngstown Vindicator, December 30, 1960. Pannier, 7 Otheres at Y Promoted by Hunneke. Vindicator Printing Company.
8. a Youngstown Vindicator, March 27, 1966. Named Lyder, Miss Tandler Directors at Camp Fitch. Vindicator Printing Company.
9. a Youngstown Vindicator, April 28, 1989. Campers turn tourists in trips program. Vindicator Printing Company.
10. a Springfield College, 2008. David Halbe Brown. Springfield College, Springfield, MA.
11. a Youngstown Vindicator, June 1, 1957. Name Camp Fitch Leaders. Vindicator Printing Company, A-12.