PROVO -- When Thayne Brower retires this month, Provo's Eldred Senior Center will lose more than just its director.

For the past 13 years, Brower also filled the roles of resident clown and life-of-the-party at the center's frequent gatherings for senior citizens.Brower's ability to listen and assist senior citizens dealing with loneliness or loss of a loved one was a great asset, said Roger Thomas, director of Provo parks and recreation.

"Thayne is one-of-a-kind," Thomas said.

Brower's concern for employees, volunteers and patrons of the senior center is legendary among those who know him. His frequent costumes and jovial behavior belie a deep compassion.

"I don't know anybody who doesn't like him," said Marian Martins, a member of the center's advisory board.

Brower, 62, spent 27 years with Provo Parks and Recreation. He served as director of the city's recreation center before his appointment as senior center director 13 years ago. He'll hang up the crazy outfits and big red nose Friday.

"I don't say I'm a professional clown," Brower said. "I'm a clown by choice."

He's clowned around as Cupid on Valentine's Day, as a leprechaun on St. Patrick's Day, and as the Easter Bunny just before Easter. Members of the Eldred Senior Center love it.

"They think I'm crazy, and that's OK," Brower said. "They enjoy people who celebrate."

Brower had no training as a clown, although he enjoyed entertaining others as a mime in high school. He says on an Independence Day about 25 years ago, he simply woke up in the morning and decided to dress up as a clown and enter himself in Provo's Freedom Festival parade.

He found he had a talent for making people laugh. As they had a good time, so did he.

"I'm just a ham, and I like to work audiences," he said. "I think I'm fairly good at it."

At the senior center, Brower instituted activities such as tai chi, line dancing, horticulture, weight lifting and karaoke. With a patronage of about 1,500 people over 55 years old, the center thrives. But Brower has tried to prepare for the next wave of members.

"We're trying to reach the younger seniors, the baby boom seniors that will be coming up," he said.

Until a couple of weeks ago, Brower also served as mayor of Wales, a Sanpete County burg with 210 residents. He enjoys the town's tranquil lifestyle, and plans to ride horses there upon retirement.

Brower also served as the chair of the State Advisory Council on Aging Services, but acquaintances say his most effective work was individualized.

"He makes everyone feel like they're important," Martins said. "We're going to have a terrible time when he's gone."

You can reach Edward L. Carter by e-mail at carter@desnews.com