Friend, farmer, facilitator extraordinaire, force of nature. Born June 30, 1930, in Toronto. Died Sept. 26 in Stratford, Ont., of a heart attack, aged 80.
Huron County lost a unique and valued citizen with the death of Bev Brown.
The daughter of Marcus and Helen Brown, Bev grew up in Toronto with her brother and sister. After attending Stephens College in Missouri, she graduated from the University of Michigan specializing in personnel administration.
Bev swept into Huron County in the seventies, accompanied by friend and co-worker Jean Moorby. They had hit the pink glass ceiling in a large Toronto company, and decided it was now or never for a midlife career change. An invitation to spend a weekend on a local pig farm produced a eureka moment - they could do that too.
The duo purchased 100 acres near Bluevale, Ont., and headed for the Ontario Agricultural College. Their professionalism and research into porcine genetics soon resulted in a higher-than-average number of healthy weanlings per litter, which other pork producers eagerly purchased from B&J Acres as breeding stock.
The college began sending students on class trips to Bluevale. They might see a pen of young boars greeting Bev with the exuberant affection of puppies, or "the Pig Lady" rubbing the back of a farrowing sow while whispering encouragement. Bev was soon on the executive of both the Huron County and Ontario Federations of Agriculture.
This idyll ended when Jean was diagnosed with lung cancer. The two sought treatment at a Christian cancer clinic in Mexico, where each began a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Bev's new faith added another dimension to her personality, and "Hallelujah" and "Amen" to her vocabulary.
Jean died of pneumonia in 1984, and Bev returned to Huron County. She moved to Brussels, Ont., and continued her community involvement. Her accomplishments were remarkable, from project co-ordinator of Huron County Atlas to co-founder and ad manager for The Blyth Citizen and co-owner and ad rep for Rural Voice magazine. A devout member of Brussels Mennonite Fellowship, Bev was a mentor and encourager of young people, whistler of orchestral calibre and possessor of a charisma that enveloped all in her path, including the abandoned cats she rescued.
Bev brought together people of all ages and walks of life for work and for play. She celebrated her 70th birthday by hosting a gala party for several hundred of her friends.
With her health declining, she moved to a Stratford, Ont., retirement home two years ago, where she soon attracted a new circle of admirers.
Bev has left behind a legacy of friendship, wisdom, generosity and laughter. This Toronto transplant who came to epitomize all that is admirable in her adopted community will not soon be forgotten.
By Yvonne Reynolds, Bev's friend.