February 26, 2020
Not believing in the traditional obituaries, sadly today, February 26, 2020 at 1:30 pm, my best friend, partner and dear wife, Anna Brown, passed away after a long battle resulting from years of misfortunate surgeries in Regina. She just stopped breathing while holding my hand and listening to her favorite star, Willie Nelson, sing “Always on my Mind”. Under the wonderful and loving care of our family doctor, Dr. Ruth Caden and many of the other doctors of Shoreline Medical, in Sidney, Anna was made very comfortable. The family would also like to thank the staff in Palliative Care at the Saanich Peninsula Hospital, Saanichton, B.C. for their very special 24/7 care.
Anna was born in Saskatoon in 1931, the daughter of Mary and Frank Franz. She was predeceased by both parents and her brother, Walter. Wife of Joe Brown, the son of Helen and Dr. Joe Brown, of Regina, she leaves behind three children, two grandchildren and two great grandchildren. They are: Charmaine Davenport (and Daryl) of Calgary; Roberta Playman (and Joe) of Phoenix and son, Tommy Joe (TJ) of
Brentwood Bay, B.C., grandaughter, Sarah Lafoy (and Kevin) their children, the GG’s, Ashton and Lexxus of Vermillion, Alberta and last, but not least, grandson, Zackary Burgess of Phoenix, Arizona.
Anna and Joe were founders of the Brown Communications Group, Regina, today one of western Canada’s oldest and largest privately-owned communications companies. In 1973 Anna joined the company, then called adsask agencies, and became president the year following. Starting in 1976 she and Joe bought out the some 120 shareholders and changed the name to Brown Communications. During several tough recessions over the years Anna’s creativity saved the agency with the formation of several art galleries and a franchise called Frameables which marketed “frameable” hasty notes through small retailers, Eatons, the Bay and Sears across Canada. The creation of the Company launched the careers of many, now well-known, Saskatchewan artists, including Hans Herold, Betty Armitage, Yvette Moore and many others.
A devoted fund-raiser, Anna put together well-known campaigns saving two churches from bankruptcy and was a fully involved in Bosco Homes and their Big Valley Jamboree giving her lifetime memories of meeting such stars as Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton and many, many more. Although she suffered over forty years of severe daily pain she always found herself making the best of this very difficult situation.
Her success with Frameables carried on after Anna and Joe sold Brown Communications to key staff members in 1986 and retired to their three homes in Maui, Victoria and their beautiful 14-acre estate on Mission Lake in the Qu’Appelle Valley where they cared for “Dr. Joe” until his passing in 1988. During Dr. Joe’s time at Mallard Cove Anna encouraged him to write a bestselling book, Good Morning Susan, on his remarkable life, donating it to the Saskatchewan Nurses Foundation for the purpose of scholarships.
Anna’s life at Mallard Cove was not only very fulfilling but exciting too. The magnificent beauty and views of the Valley attracted many dignitaries including Canadian prime ministers and Saskatchewan premiers all topped off with a very secret three-day retreat of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip in October 1987.
Known for her inspirational public speaking Anna spoke regularly at graduating classes throughout Saskatchewan, never using a note, but just from the heart, to students like Siast (now saskpolytech).
Again, Anna’s marketing expertise took over after she realized Mallard Cove was becoming too much to handle for possible future owners. She turned the main floor areas of the home into an antique, fine jewellery and huge art gallery plus, the only Murchie’s tea house outside of B.C. In addition she added a gift shop over the boat house, which included the largest Tilley Store between Toronto and Vancouver, It became a huge Valley tourist attraction with over 20,000 coming through their main gate electric counters each year until they wrote off and
literally gave Mallard Cove away in late 1995. During the annual seven year, 4 month operation of Mallard Cove,
with the help of Mrs.(Dr.) Willa Haughton, Anna held several major fund raisers for the Regina Symphony with many members entertaining throughout the Mallard Cove gardens on the special weekends.
Retiring to their home in Victoria they soon tired of the big city and moved to Sidney “By the Sea”. Within two
years Anna and Joe owned the most successful vacation home on Roberts Bay. But, Anna still had to continue her fund-raising and worked tirelessly raising funds for the hospital, homeless and several other charities until her health caught up to her. For their 33 plus years of retirement she and Joe traveled the world enjoying some 29 cruises.and visiting over 36 countries. Her favourite was a month in her parent’s homeland of Poland and several trips to their favourite city of Buenos Aires.
“Now that Anna Is gone, although I have a wonderful family and friends, I feel lost,” said Joe. “Anna and I have never spent a day apart in 48 years. Our daughter, Roberta has been here to help us 5-times in 2019 and four times since December 1st. I will return with her to Phoenix in early March to try to help out there. So here is my “non private” e-mail address: E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note: our home phone has been disconnected.”
I hope to hear from some old, and possibly lost friends. Anna’s ashes will be held until my passing, when we will again be joined together and spread in the Haro Strait off the Sidney Pier which Anna, Joe and TJ helped to finance. Suitable plaques are placed at the entrance. At their request no service will be held. If you wish, donations may be made to the Right to Die Society of Canada, 145 Macdonell Ave., TORONTO, Ontario, M6R 2A4 , or, a show of sympathy and compassion to the homeless.
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