Carl Browne was 62 when he retired as a mailman, but he wasn't just delivering letters and bills during his 42 years at the post office.

He was also picking up the education he needed for his next career.

Browne had a lifelong talent for numbers, and he turned that into a small accounting business he ran for 30 years in Atlantic City, his hometown. But Browne, who died last month at 86, had to work hard for that second career.

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He told an interviewer in 1989 - on his last day as a mailman - that he started college at age 34.

Of course, he was working full-time while he studied, but delivering mail was hardly the only thing he did to support his wife, Vera, and four kids. Vera died in 2007.

"My dad had so many side jobs," said his daughter, Cheryl Browne, of Atlantic City. They included cleaning a church and an office building, and "he used to be a milkman - he did everything. He worked hard for his family."

One of his cleaning clients was the Atlantic City office of Victor A. Fabietti and Co., an accounting firm whose founder died in 2009.

"Carl developed a rapport with Vic Fabietti when he came in to clean in the evening," said Susan Hughes, of Linwood, a Fabietti employee who knew Browne more than 40 years. "They had an ongoing relationship from then on."

Her old boss was a "mentor" to Browne - "Carl would come in and ask ... different tax questions," she said, and Fabietti or other accountants would help him when they could. She calls him an easy man to like -"always smiling and friendly and happy."

When he wasn't working, Browne loved music - mainly jazz and classical. His musical hero was Miles Davis, the legendary jazz trumpeter.

But Ike Gordy, 85, Browne's longtime friend, adds that they were fans of many more musicians - including jazz giants they used to see live in the old Atlantic City.

Browne did the taxes every year for Gordy and his wife, Thelma, but they had more of a friendship than a business relationship.

"We talked about music, and old times - how when we were growing up, you could roller-skate around Atlantic City, because there weren't many cars, and the streets were nice and smooth," Gordy said.

Browne knew those streets well. And he kept driving them until just last year - even if some people thought he should retire his license too.

For years, he went to the Pleasantville post office every morning and got the mail for the accountants now called Fabietti Hale Hammerstedt & Powers - his old mentor's old firm, which moved out to Egg Harbor Township in 1990. Carl would deliver the mail, visit a bit and maybe talk a little accounting with the people in the office.

Old habits - of all kinds - are hard to break.

Contact Martin DeAngelis:


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