Much more could be said, my father's life was difficult, but I will limit this account of his life strictly to his own words for now. In time, I will insert more photos.
David BROWN was born of Irish parents in Cranbrook, BC, the year was 1918. The family returned to Ireland when he was five but came back to Canada 4 years later. His father, who was a Civil Engineer, built the Banff Springs Hotel in 26-30 which after over fifty years is still considered one of Canada’s truly fine buildings. He went on to construct the Stillwater dam on the Lois River in 1930. This project still boasts the tallest surge tank ever built – 312 feet high.
Settling in West Vancouver, David completed High School. His love of music came to the fore so he took up the clarinet and toured parts of Alberta and much of BC with the West Vancouver Band under the baton of the late, respected Arthur Delamont.
Joining the Royal Bank in ’36 he soon obtained his A.C.B.A. by correspondence, from Queen’s University. In 1940 he enlisted in the Seaforth Highlanders but in ’41 transferred to the RCAF. Training as a navigator at Winnipeg and Gimli, he finished his Astro course at Rivers and was posted to Ferry Command for one trip.
Before you could say “Bob’s your Uncle” Pilot Officer Brown was attached to a squadron of night flying, torpedo loaded Wellington bombers. They took off for Malta via Gibraltar and West Africa and David spent 3 years in the Middle East. The climate, food and living conditions took their toll. Dysentery, malaria and other obscure native ailments made his time “a bit on the rough side”.
David well remembers a flight to Sicily on July 11th, 1943 when an engine blew and they ditched in the Mediterranean. The inflateable dinghy had a two-foot hole in the bottom so “Mae Wests” became the dress of the day. The crew was picked up by one of the ships they were flying cover for and the “Goldfish Club” had another grateful member.
Flt/Lt Brown (no place to go but up) attended Staff College in South Africa and has fond memories (with scars to prove it) of playing rugby. His rural Canadian background did not include so-called games that feature tripping, kicking, shoving, kneeing and yelling at the opposition. However, in the hectic struggle somehow he lost half his moustache – but won the game with a well-timed kick from the corner. One of his fondest memories!
Transferred to England, David wandered into the Warrington Golf Club for a relaxing ale and bitters, gin and tonic or whatever.
One of the members, Betty Oddie, just happened to be relaxing from her duties as driver for the Ministry of Supply. Betty grew up in Lytham, Lancashire, a quiet town just south of Blackpool, and attended Cheltenham Ladies College in Gloucestershire. Before arriveing in the city of Warrington in norther England, where she was a Mechanized Transport Corps driver, she had been working in a bomb-filling facory inWrexham, Wales.
Now to return to the evening in question – when big Dave saw her all his dash and savoir-faire went out the window. His heart did an inside loop and three wing-overs. Instant pow!!
Betty did not help the situation. You know how those English girls are! Her reaction was like his – maybe worse. Things went quickly from good to better – and her name from Oddie to Brown. The year was 1945 – they still think it was a good idea..
Returning to Canada, Brown took his discharge in Oct. ’45 at Boundary Bay, and Betty joined him several months later. After a short stint at the bank he went into selling for six years. Their first child, a daughter, was born in Vancouver in 1946.
In his spare time, David took up acting and was president of the West Vancouver Theatre Guild, he had a weekly half-hour program of classical music on CKWX, he founded the West Vancouver Air Cadets and joined the Reserve Air Force.
In 1951, he re-enlisted in the RCAF to instruct on CF 100s at North Bay. Then he spent 3 years at Air Defence Command at St. Hubert, PQ; from there to all weather fighter squadron with the NATO force in France. This was a 4 ½ yeat stint. Another memory for the Brown’s comes from a production of “The Mikado” in wich David played and sang the part of Pooh-Bah, while they were stationed at Metz.
In all, David had over nineteen years in the service and much of this time and travel to Norway, Denmark, Belgium, Italy, etc. was shared by Betty and their five children. Sharon, Brian, Struan, Bruce and Martin were all born in Canada and still live close to their parents. Betty and Dave have seven grandchildren, six girls and one boy ages from nine down to a few months.
Back home in ’62 and discharged in’64 as a Flight Lieutenant, David felt the call and entered Montreal Diocesan College for one year. He spent three years at the Anglican Theological College at UBC, then he accepted a call as Deacon of St. Timothy’s in Vancouver. The next year he became a priest.
In 1971, David Betty and their three youngest sons went to Gibson’s Landing where David was rector of two parishes – St. Bartholomew’s in Gibson’s and St. Aiden’s in Roberts Creek, 7 miles away. Besides his parish work, he chaired a committee on suicide prevention.
Betty has always been busy, first with her family and later as a minster’s wife, with the W.A.. She is a Past Matron of the Eastern Star, is now a member of the Haney Chapter, and regularly helps make up cancer dressings at Maple Ridge Hospital. David is a qualified pastoral counsellor and has been a Chaplain of the Legion, Naval Cadets, Sea Cadets,”WRENS” and cubs and scouts. He is also a past master of the Masonic Lodge, Past First Principal of the Royal Arch Masons, as well as Past Grand Chaplain of the Royal Arch Masons of BC and the Yukon. One may wonder how they found time for this, but in ’76 they made a trip back to England to see relatives and Betty was able to revisit the Isle of Man where she had spent many happy summers as a youngster.
Three years ago, David’s health deteriorated and he retired early.
Despite the setback, the Brown’s are enjoying Meadowlands. In all
their travels, this is the place they feel is HOME. The kindness, concern
and friendship in the complex and neighbourhood is much appreciated by
them. They, like all of us, feel very strongly that our complex is really
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