Sally Brown: Force of Nature

Sally Brown Chronology

Editor's Note: Sally Brown: Force of Nature is a 2006 KET production.


Early Life

Mother, Ina Hamilton Dowdy, born Fort Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Father, Brig. Gen. Martin Conrad Shallenberger, was stationed at Valdez, Alaska Army post.

  • Sally born in Valdez, Alaska, April 14, 1911.
  • Father assigned to Presidio, San Francisco.
    • Aid to Gen. John J. Pershing
  • Father reassigned to Fort Bliss, Texas
    • Fought with Mexican Expeditionary Force against Pancho Villa at Mexican border.
    • Had to tell Pershing that his wife and children had died in a house fire.
    • Friend of George S. Patton
  • World War I declared—Shallenberger, Pershing, and Patton assigned to Europe.
    • Sally and her mother move in with A.C. Shallenberger, Sally’s grandfather, current Congressman and former governor of Nebraska.
  • WWI ends in 1918.
    • 1919: Sally, brother Martin, and mother travel across Atlantic aboard U.S.S. Zeppelin.
    • Father named military attaché to Athens and Belgrade.
      • First six months spent in Portugal and Madrid.
  • Family moves to Belgrade.
  • In 1921, family moves to Athens.
    • Cross treacherous Babuna mountain in Army-issue vehicle.
    • Sally befriends children of Prince Nicholas.
    • Political turmoil compels Shallenberger to move family to Cathesia, a rural area outside of Athens.
    • Father takes military leave, and family tours Paris, Venice, and Florence.
  • Shallenberger assigned to Fort McPherson, Atlanta, in 1925.
    • Under command of Gen. Douglas
      • Sally and friends put on a children’ performance of Madame Butterfly, which she’d seen in Athens, and are written up in the newspaper.
  • In 1928, Sally enrolls in Sweet Briar College.
  • Sally visits friend from college (VanWinkle) in Louisville in 1931 and meets W.L. Lyons Brown, future husband, at Louisville Country Club.
  • Father named military attaché to Austria and Hungary.
    • Family moves to Vienna, and Sally spends summers there.
      • Austria under threat from Hitler.
      • Prime Minister Dolphus assassinated.
  • Sally graduates from Sweet Briar in 1932.
    • Earns Bachelor of Fine Arts with emphasis in painting.
  • Sally visits Louisville frequently, staying with VanWinkle family and seeing W.L. Lyons Brown.
  • In 1933, Lyons and brother George join family company, Brown-Forman Corporation.
  • Lyons cables in 1935 that he will be visiting Vienna with his father and two uncles.
    • Proposes to Sally.
  • Lyons Brown and Sally Shallenberger married in 1935 at the British Embassy.
    • Couple returns to Louisville to live at Lyons’ father’s house.

Louisville Life

  • 1935-1944: Children Lee, Martin, and Owsley born.
  • In 1945, daughter Ina is born and family moves to Ashbourne Estate.
    • Lyons Brown becomes president of Brown-Forman Corporation.
  • Sally joins Sweet Briar College Board of Directors.
    • Serves from 1945 to 1965.
  • In 1957, Sally organizes a group to purchase and repair Locust Grove, childhood home of George Rogers Clark.
    • Locust Grove board member 1957-1970.
    • Locust Grove becomes a National Historic Landmark, and in year 2000 becomes an accredited museum.
  • Sally co-founds River Fields in 1959.
  • In 1964, Actors Theatre of Louisville is founded.
    • Sally is early contributor.
  • Serves as board member for Louisville Ballet, Shakertown, Louisville Downtown Development Committee, Speed Art Museum, and Kentucky Opera.

National Conservation

  • Sally is asked to join the Garden Club of America.
    • Serves from 1966 to 2001, including stints as chair of Admissions, Conservation, and Legislation committees; vice president; and National Affairs Advisor.
  • Continues work with numerous environmental organizations.
    • Serves on board of Environmental Defense from 1967 to 1992.
    • Joins Natural Resources Defense Council in 1971.
      • Serves on President’s Council.
    • Serves on boards at Woods Hole Research Center, World Wildlife Fund, National Wildlife Federation, et al.
  • 1973: W.L. Lyons Brown dies at the age of 66.
  • Sally serves as U.S. delegate to United Nations Conference on World Population in 1974.
    • Serves as delegate to International Union for Conservation and Nature, 1974.
  • Co-founder of Kentucky State Nature Conservancy, 1979.
    • Leads to establishment of 500-acre Sally Brown Nature Preserve.
  • Sally’s efforts alongside President Jimmy Carter lead to historic expansion of Alaska National Wildlife Refuge on Dec. 2, 1980.
    • Sally joins Americans for Alaska.
  • In 1984, Sally serves as delegate to United Nations Conference on World Population, Mexico City.
  • Sally instrumental in founding the Conservation Fund, 1985.
  • Sally’s funding creates chair at Woods Hole Research Center.
    • Chair held by Kiliparti Ramakrishna, environmental lawyer, who subsequently goes on to draft the Conference Treaty on Climate Control, the precursor to the Kyoto Protocol.
  • Sally sits on the Yale School of Forestry’s Leadership Council, the Transylvania University Bingham Advisory Board, and the Bellarmine Board of Directors.
  • In early 1990s, Sally helps fund the Louisville Development Corporation’s search for a Waterfront Park design team.
    • Contributes again during construction of park and then again upon completion, after it was decided to redesign the park entrance.
    • Sculpture at entrance to park commissioned by Sally’s family.
  • In 2003, Sally is awarded the Natural Resource Defense Council’s Force for Nature Award.