a tribute to
made both his and others’ dreams real from 1965-2020
It is with a heavy heart that the entire intellicents family celebrates a life well-lived but cut too short. Our colleague and friend, Steve Brownlow, passed away Wednesday, April 22nd due to complications from two strokes and a severe heart attack. He was but 55. Online, Steve was a 401(k) industry titan, having spent his entire career at our company. His impact, memory, and legacy are deeply woven into the very fabric of intellicents and will continue to influence the manner in which we serve the American worker.
Offline, Steve was a devoted family man, active in his church and our community. But when it came to making a good work/life balance real, he had a passion for being on a secluded lake or stream with just rod & reel in his hands and close friends and family nearby.
Below are a few of many testimonials to Steve and the impact he made both personally and professionally for others.
I was fortunate to call Steve a friend and Colleague. I would look forward to the days we would both be in the office and we could spend some time together. Mostly challenging each other to unique situations that we were helping our clients resolve or new ideas to consider. Many times these conversations would evolve into real solutions but there was always time to challenge the idea, each other and then debate the topic. It was during these conversations that I truly learned to appreciate and admire Steve. I realized after a number of these that Steve’s goal was to test my knowledge and conviction to an idea or concept before I would move forward. This process many times helped to find the best alternative and solution. We would defend our positions with intensity and respect. It the end we would generally agree, talk about our families and personal interests. Usually leading to some laughter and valuable life insight. Steve’s passion for his clients, love for his family, wisdom and dry humor will continue to have a profound influence on my life. My thoughts and prayers continue for Gayle, Sean, Dane and Lauren as they handle this tragic loss with faith and grace. Intellicents will never be the same. Thank you for the memories and I know you are right by your dad laughing and fishing on a beautiful lake.
I had the great honor of being able to work with Steve for close to a decade. He was an intelligent, articulate man - a staunch advocate for his clients, and an amazing human being. I am deeply saddened for his family and for our industry.
I knew Steve for about 6 years at intellicents and each year I continued to learn something new about him. Steve was so inspirational in all that he did. He was someone that would always see your greater potential and help encourage you to reach that potential. I will never forget all the road trips I spent with Steve talking everything from politics to fishing and having our own version of a presidential debate on the way to client meeting. I will truly miss our ping pong tournaments where he would beat me every time. Steve was not just a colleague and a mentor, but a friend. My sincerest condolences go out to the Brownlow family. Steve will never be forgotten and eternally missed.
I was blessed to get to know Steve immediately after arriving in Minnesota. We quickly became friends through our mutual love of the outdoors and fishing. Over the years I spent almost all of my adventures with Steve. The people that you choose or that choose you to spend those weeks are not taken lightly. It was on those trips that Steve became my best friend. He was kind, caring, supportive, smart and successful. I looked up to him for so many reasons. We shared many of those trips with our dads and that made them even more special. We talked multiple times each week planning trips and sharing about each other’s lives and family. I’m going to miss spending time in the boat with him each summer talking about family, work and of course fishing. To me, the rivers, lakes and steams will never be the same without him by my side. My heart hurts the most for his family although I will miss him always.
Since Steve’s passing, I have been thinking about the time I spent in your home. The thing I most admire about Steve was his infectious personality and how easy it was for him to make everyone laugh. One of my best memories is playing ping pong alongside Steve, he always seemed to make small things so memorable. I will forever hold these memories close to my heart. Thinking about everyone close to him during this time of grief.
Our daughter, Grace, was one of Lauren Brownlow’s best friends. She was privileged to be a special part of the Brownlow’s lives. Grace always spoke so highly of Steve and Gayle. She truly respected Steve and his knowledge of finance. As a teenager, she had a great curiosity about personal finance and investing... she even purchased and owned stock in Domino’s Pizza! :) Lauren has shared video with us of some of the personal finance lessons and discussions between Steve and Grace. They both looked so happy.
He was always pouring himself in to the life of his family and the friends of his children.
Grace went to Heaven on February 17. Nobody expected that she would get to greet Steve in that place just a couple months later.
We pray for God’s richest blessings of peace and love for the Brownlow family and the community that loves him.
We are grateful for his impact on so many lives.
Torrey and Clare Zimmerman
Steve was one of the most intelligent people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. He was also one of the most kindhearted. Steve genuinely cared about every single person in his life. I knew Steve for under a year, but what a blessing it was. Every day Steve walked into work with a smile and took time out of his busy day to talk with anyone and everyone. He would talk anything from work, to his adoring family to fishing. He was a very hard working family man and to me, an overachiever. He pushed everyone to be their best. Steve taught me so much during our time together. He would even quiz me to push me outside of my comfort zone. He was such a funny outgoing person who will be missed by so many. The office will not be the same without him. My heart goes out to his wonderful family.
I have worked with Steve for almost 29 years and knew Steve from high school. Steve was a very compassionate person and committed to his family, church and work. Steve was a huge asset to intellicents, his knowledge, work ethic and client rapport were all what made Steve successful in the benefits industry. I believe Steve had a goal of making everyone he knew a better person and worker. Steve will be missed but not forgotten.
I didn't know Steve well, but I remember speaking with Stephanie in March about Steve and receiving his updates. I was so encouraged by how Mr. Brownlow was still working and catching up on the things that he had missed while he was out. That spoke to me and made me look inwardly as to how I was living in that current moment. The fact that he was getting the job done, taking care of business, having that relentless mindset, and still setting the example of a great family man was refreshing to hear. You all are blessed to have worked with such an amazing individual and I am confident that his life lessons and actions will continue to live through each one of you!
First encounter with Steve was when he was in 4th grade and I was in 5th. Back then I was pretty hard to beat in a sprint race. I kept hearing about this 4th grader at Lakeview that was really fast It was Steve Brownlow, and it was no rumor, he was lightening fast.
How fortunate I was to be able to coach Sean in basketball and to have Gayle and Steve supporting the basketball program. My sincere condolences to the entire family. Your dad was one of the good ones.
It has been a pleasure to see Steve and his family in church.. Always close to the front of the sanctuary. We will always remember him as a wonderful family man. He always had a kind word and ready smile. Steve has left a wonderful legacy.
Sharon and Larry Blair
He was always so friendly when we would see him either at the place of business or out and about. He was a great mentor to our grandson, Andrew. You guys even came to Andrew's wedding way over in Marshall, Minnesota. Steve will be missed by everyone who
knew him and what a loss for you and your family.
Corald and Connie Peterson
I heard the news about Steve this morning and I wanted to reach out and tell you that I’m thinking about all of you at Intellicents. Obviously, there are no words sufficient to say how awful this is. My heart aches for Steve’s family and for all of you. Our lives are shaped by our experiences, and my experiences working at ABG and intellicents guided me into the person I am today. My time working directly with Steve was a significant part of that. He challenged me to do more and to do better in so many ways - professionally and personally. And while it wasn’t always sunshine and roses in the moment, we always ended with better results when Steve compelled us to do more. He left a lasting impression and taught me lessons I will continue to lean on indefinitely. Thoughts and prayers to the entire intellicents family!
Steve can be summed up in one word: brilliant. In my years working with Steve he surely pushed my buttons, and challenged my knowledge. His approach in teaching valuable lessons was... brilliant. You never knew when Steve would bop in and quiz you about an investment best practice, coworker’s capacity, client’s true needs, or investment principle. That was brilliant. It kept me and every member of the team on our toes and consistently exploring the ‘best’ approach (for the benefit of all, but also to impress Steve in our responses). Then, you’d chat personal life with him and he would GLOW. He went absolutely brilliant in color when talking about Gayle and their children. He lit up and gave endless smiles while on the topics of family and outdoors. I have never in my career experienced another person as dedicated to the satisfaction of a client - and equally dedicated to the satisfaction of his family. He was a rare breed; deeply effective. However, somehow, I feel confident that Steve is still committed to both and looking over his family and clients from the Heavens. I cherish the lessons he taught me and am hoping those left behind find comfort in knowing they have gained him as an everlasting angel... there could never be a more a brilliant one to have on your side throughout life.
Life is just so precious. It can also be so unfair when it is cut too short.
Steve Brownlow was more than a co-worker. He was more then just a friend. His family and the Arends family have been connected in deep friendship and love for now close to 50 years dating back to my parents and his.
So yes this hurts.
When it came to work, Steve said that invaluable quality service should never be free. So true.
Yet to simply know Steve was indeed an invaluable gift.
We have been fortunate to consider Steve Brownlow not only a consultant, but a colleague and a friend. Over the years Steve has provided us with impeccable guidance and support, as well as comradery over enthusiastic hunting and fishing stories! A visit with Steve always brought numerous smiles and vast insight. His passing has deeply saddened our organization and we will remember him fondly.
Bob Riegelman, Riedell Shoes, Inc.
I worked with Steve at Alliance Benefit Group for over 10 years, from 1999-2010. He worked in consulting “upstairs” while I worked in administration “downstairs” and we all knew him as “Brownie”. When our paths did cross, it often was related to a mutual client. Steve was always on his clients side and determined to do right by them. I remember him as always playing devils advocate which could be frustrating at times, but it was always for the good of the client. I actually went to college with Steve at Gustavus, although I didn’t know him there, nor was I from Albert Lea. Steve was just 7 days older than me as well, so his passing hit me from both a coworker view and also from us both being Gusties. My heart goes out to Gayle’s family during this time as well as his coworkers at Intellicents.
I had the opportunity to meet Steve when his son took me to his house for the first time two years ago. For me (as a foreign student), he instantly looked like what I imagined a typical American dad to be; very kind, putting the well-being of his family above all else. Last year during the summer, I had the opportunity to live with the Brownlows for two weeks. Steve was like a father to me for those two weeks, we went on bike rides together, he took me to a cabin up in Wisconsin and overall, he just treated me like a member of the family and we had lots of great talks about anything imaginable. He was one of the greatest guys I have ever known and my thoughts and prayers are with the Brownlow family.
Steve, Chris Chalmers and I all shared a home on Oakwood Drive. All young and single. Within a year we were all hooked up with what were to become our wives. I've known Steve since we were both real young. As Jaycees we filled sandboxes, did concession stands, ran demo derbies and so much more. He has left his mark and will continue with all the service he has volunteered to make Albert Lea better.
I knew Steve both through church and working with him at ABG for a time. He always had a smile and a hello in passing, and would often ask how I was, and actually wait and listen for an answer. That’s hard to come by these days. My heart goes out to his whole family, his friends, and his coworkers. His life clearly changed others for the good.
I first met Steve as a six year old when our family moved down the street from the Brownlow’s on Park Avenue in Albert Lea. I have four older sisters and no brothers, so I looked up to a few of the older boys in the neighborhood like Steve. Our fathers loved to fish and hunt and as we all know Steve’s passion outside of his family and work was fishing. One of my favorite memories was the day that Dr. Brownlow (Neil), my dad David, Steve and I got up early on a Saturday morning and made the drive to Red Wing to fish on the Mississippi River. It was a cold, windy, miserable spring day in Minnesota where a snowmobile suit was the optimal choice of clothing. By mid-afternoon, we were out of the food we had packed, and not only had we not caught a fish, we did not even have a strike to embellish about. Suddenly, I recalled hearing Steve’s line reeling and the boat was filled with anticipation with the first “fish on” of the day. After the fish was hooked, Neil shouted at Steve, “give him (me) the fishing pole”. Steve gave his dad a teenage death stare I won’t ever forget, with Neil’s face quickly turning red and without another word, Steve passed the fishing pole my way and ten minutes later I landed a nice sized walleye. This turned out to be the only catch of the day. While I expected Steve to be filled with rage, I think he quickly realized his dad was trying to pass along his love of fishing to the young “rookie”. Steve took his Dad’s que and couldn’t have been more supportive, which in looking back, could not have been easy for a teenager.
I’ve been fortunate to also work with Steve the last eight years at intellicents. He has been a great role model to me as a kid growing up and in a business setting, always quick with a comment (sometimes really a suggestion that you knew he put some thought into), loved to call me on Friday afternoons to talk “shop” after a week full of client meetings (I think he really wanted to make sure I was in the office) and someone who is very proud of his family, and rightly so. My condolences to the entire Brownlow family. Steve, you will be missed in a lot of ways.
Prayers lifted to Gayle and the family. Our hearts ache with Steve's passing. Over the last ten years I have appreciated Steve's knowledge, professionalism and heart for helping our company and team members. He always made it a point of asking about family, it was more than just work. Gonna miss Steve, our benefits/401k meetings will never be the same.
I was a coworker with Steve for almost 22 years. Steve could be the most stubborn and frustrating fellow, but in the end Steve was generally right . His devotion to his clients and work partners was second to none. Jane and I would often see Steve, Gayle with their little children first Sean, Then Dane and finally little Lauren walk past our home on Ridge Road while they were on their evening stroll. What a wonderful family they became. I shall miss seeing Steve on my visits at intellicents. I hope Steve catches the biggest fish up there.
Larry and Jane Arends
I am extremely sorry to hear of your loss. I extend my thoughts and prayers to your entire family during this time. Steve was a great man with even greater qualities. I am extremely grateful to have met Steve and this speaks to his character as he was one that always devoted his time to helping others. He taught me great life skills through Scouting. He was someone that saw the best in people and pushed people to achieve that. I am forever grateful to Steve as he was the one that pushed me to achieve my Eagle Scout. Steve was a role model for me. My sincerest condolences.
Steve your soul was one that truly exemplified the reason we were put on this earth. To better our fellow man to guide them and lead them by example. Your genuine care of the well being of others touch all those lucky enough to have been part of your life. I know you instilled those qualities in your children so your legacy lives on long past your presence and as such your short time on this earth will continue to enrich lives for generations to come. I will miss talking to you as I have always known your guidance was merely a call away. Until we meet in heaven look down at us and smile knowing your life was one we all desire to emulate.
I am glad to have known Steve through his work with us at Showplace Cabinetry. I have always enjoyed my time with Steve and we are grateful for everything he has done for us.
Personally, I am blessed to have been able to know Steve. He was so wise, friendly and kind! He always spoke so highly of his family! I will miss you, Steve.
A bunch of us used to go to Canada on a yearly fishing trip. Oh the stories we have! The group changed over the years. Some couldnt go so we would fill in with others. I believe Steve and Neil never missed a trip until Neil's passing. Those two were so much fun to be around. I know our group of brothers are now down two. Steve I miss you. Neil take him under your wing until we all meet again. My condolences.
Steve's words of encouragement and support throughout my career with ABG - and as I stepped into my own entrepreneurial journey - are often thought of and will certainly never be forgotten. He was a man of great passion for his clients and never let anything stand in the way of getting the job done...and the deal closed!! :) All of our sincerest prayers with the Intellicents and the Brownlow family.
Steve was a one of a kind guy, and I'll forever be grateful that I was able to get to spend time with him. He will forever be an inspiration to me on how to constantly strive to put more into the work the that I do, but Steve set an example for more than work. I got to know him as family man too, and I could tell that he gave them that same level of devotion. My condolences go out to his family, and everyone that knew or worked with him. He will be sorely missed. Rest in peace Steve.