Masset councilor Janet Brown remembered

  • Jul. 30, 2007 2:00 p.m.

By Alex Rinfret–Masset councillor Janet Brown died Friday (July 27) in Trail at the age of 70 after fighting cancer for many months. Ms Brown was remembered this week for her down-to-earth opinions, her extraordinary kindness, and her open-mindedness. “She was great, very knowledgeable and full of surprises,” said longtime friend Lynda Osborne, who had been planning to travel to Trail next week to visit Ms Brown. “She was a great support for me.” Ms Osborne said Ms Brown had close friends from all walks of life, in Masset and in other communities like the small town in Belize where she had built a house. Many people considered her a “spiritual mother”, Ms Osborne said. Ms Brown had spent the last several months in Trail at her daughter’s house because of the medical care available there, she said. She came to Masset for a visit in May, attending her final council meeting May 28. Jack Thorgeirson, who served on council with Ms Brown for several years, said she possessed a unique combination of community-mindedness, charm and forthrightness. “She spoke it like it was,” he said. “She was an awesome lady and great to work with. It’s a big loss for Masset.” Ms Brown was first elected to council in 1999. In 2002 she was re-elected with the most votes of any candidate in Masset, and she was elected for a third term in 2005. She represented the village on the Vancouver Island Regional Library board and was active in the Masset legion and the Masset seniors. She was also the local marriage commissioner for more than 35 years, officiating at the ceremonies of many couples from Masset, Old Massett, Port Clements and Tlell as well as visitors who wanted to get married in romantic locations like Agate Beach. David Phillips first met Ms Brown in the early 1970s, shortly after he had moved to the islands. “Janet Brown and Marg Braman were my divas,” he recalled this week. “They looked after me and made sure I had work.” At the time, Ms Brown and Ms Braman ran a store in the Karlscourt Hotel, where they sold local crafts and items they brought in from off-island. Mr. Phillips said he would often help them out, arranging the window displays or doing other tasks. And one day, Ms Brown taught him a lesson which he has never forgotten. “One day I walked in and there was a carton of velvet Jesus paintings,” he said, which Ms Brown had ordered to sell in the store. “I was wondering, who would ever buy those? Within 20 minutes, one had sold, and within 45 minutes they were all gone. People lined up to buy them until the box was empty…. That was one of the most important retail lessons I ever learned: not everybody’s taste is the same. There was room in Janet’s world for all different visions.” A celebration of Ms Brown’s life is being planned for Aug. 18. A by-election will be held at some point to fill her council seat, as there is still more than a year left in her term. Village administrator Trevor Jarvis said council has not yet appointed an election officer or set a date for the by-election.