By DAVID GREEN
Marie Cottrell heard her unexpected house guest announced as Jerry Brown, but it took a little while before she made the connection.
He sat at the Cottrell kitchen table Sunday afternoon while Marie was busy making cookies and she said, “You look like someone I should know.”
“Do I look like Jerry Brown?” he asked.
“Well, the governor of California is named Jerry Brown,” Marie answered, knowing that’s who he resembled.
“He is the governor,” his wife confirmed.
His wife, Anne Gust Brown, is the reason Bruce and Marie Cottrell had one of the most unusual experiences of their life.
G.W. Gust was a prominent Morenci resident in the 1800s. His son became an attorney and moved to Detroit. One of his grandchildren, Anne, served as an executive with The Gap clothing store chain and she eventually married Jerry Brown.
The Browns and other Gust relatives were visiting the Gust cottage at Walmpers Lake when they decided to take a trip to Morenci to track down the family cemetery plots and see what they could learn about the Gusts’ role in the city.
They stopped a pedestrian near the Morenci United Methodist Church—John Van Havel—who directed them to the Cottrell home. John knew that Bruce would have information for the visitors.
The visitors knocked on the Cottrell back door and found Marie busily preparing for company and the Fulton County Fair.
“They came in the back door and we sat around the kitchen table and talked,” Marie said. “I was glad I had my dished done, but they probably wouldn’t have cared.”
While Bruce talked history with Anne and her brother, Bob, Marie and governor talked about the economy is California. Brown had questions for her about Michigan and its governor.
Marie isn’t sure how many people in Morenci would have recognized the governor, but she knew the face.
“Just because I’m a little town girl doesn’t mean I don’t have a brain and an interest in other places,” she said.
Thinking back on the incident, she looks at that half hour as a story of a lifetime. She laughs knowing that she was wearing pajama bottoms along with a nice shirt and apron.
“My brain was so addled with worrying about my cookies burning that I didn’t even think about taking a photo,” Marie said.