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Waterslides operators going into Hall of Fame
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The husband-wife team responsible for connecting Manteca with waterslides in the minds of generations of people is being inducted into the Manteca Hall of Fame.

Robert “Budge” and Arlene Brown — both who have passed away — are being inducted at the dinner and ceremonies taking place Saturday, May 9, at the Manteca Senior Center, 295 Cherry Lane. Tickets are $60 apiece and are available through the Manteca Boys & Girls Club, 545 W. Alameda St., or by calling 239.5437.

Other inductees are Aaron “Bubba Black” Goodwin, the arts; Dr. Craig Bobson, health care; Daryll Paul Quaresma, agriculture; Ruth Anne Boggs, education; Donna Shannon, at large; Albert Eugene Pagnucci, government; Lindsay Munoz, education; John “Jack” Thomson, athletics; Earl Pimentel, special recognition; and Bianca Jacklich, community service.

The Browns are being inducted in the field of business.

Budge Brown is regarded as the farther of the fiberglass waterpark slide. He was the first to build a modular fiberglass waterslide. Waterparks around the world have some version of his original design. He also built a number of waterslides for clients throughout California, Australia and New Zealand.

The couple operated the Manteca Waterslides at Oakwood Lake Resort for 30 years. They were inducted last year into the 2014 Water Park Hall of Fame.

Brown started a sand mining operation at the location of his Manteca ranch in 1970 where the Oakwood Lake Shores housing development is now located. When the pits started filling with water seeping in from the nearby San Joaquin River the couple opened the Oakwood Lake Resort campgrounds.

During a trip to Hawaii Brown became fascinated with a natural waterslide. The result was a 720-foot long concrete waterslide coated with epoxy that was the first installed at Oakwood Lake. He quickly grew frustrated with the design as the concrete slide often caused riders to fall off their mat and even occasionally come to a standstill. That prompted exploring other material such as fiberglass. 

Oakwood employed nearly 500 people with an annual payroll exceeding $1 million. Oakwood Lake Resevior contributed an average of $50,000 per year in tickets for local fundraisers.

Some of the slides he created are still rated among some of the fastest ever built.

He farmed walnuts, almonds, grapes, alfalfa and other crops. In 1980 he became one of the first farmers to use drip irrigation in San Joaquin County. He opened Tulip Winery in 2000 in Nice in Northern California. Then after the death of his wife in 2005, he opened Cleavage Creek Winery in Pope Valley. He created world class wines as well as raised breast cancer awareness with 10 percent of profits funding alternative forms of cancer treatment. A generous donation from Brown and the Brown Foundation allowed Bastyr University in Kenmore, Wash., in 2009 to open an oncology research center.

Budge Brown was one of the founders of the San Joaquin Business Council and the San Joaquin Partnership. The Browns donated to St. Dominic’s Hospital while it was being built. They also made a significant contribution to the construction and operation of the Liga Eye Clinic in El Fuerte, Mexico.