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Brown, May

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Brown, May

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Dec. 9, 1919-Mar. 1, 2019


Annie May Brown (nee Adams) was born on December 9, 1919, in Hardisty, Alberta. Her family moved to British Columbia when Brown was seven and they settled in Surrey. After graduating from Surrey High School in 1937, Brown studied physical education at the Provincial Normal School, where she graduated in 1940. During the next several years, Brown taught physical education in New Westminster, Surrey and Fernie. In 1945, Brown attended McGill University and earned a Bachelor of Science in Physical Education graduating in 1947. Brown returned to Vancouver in the same year and became a faculty member at UBC's newly formed School of Physical Education and Recreation (now Kinesiology) where she taught until 1955. She also served as head coach of the UBC women's field hockey team. In 1961, Brown obtained her Master’s degree in Physical Education from UBC.

May Brown made her entry into Vancouver politics in the election of November 1972, when she successfully ran for a position on the Park Board, as part of The Elector's Action Movement (T.E.A.M.) slate of Art Phillips. Brown served four years as a Park Board Commissioner, the latter two as Chairman. In 1976, again as a T.E.A.M. candidate, May Brown achieved a second place finish (behind H. Rankin) in the aldermanic race, a position she maintained in every aldermanic election she contested until 1984. (Bill Yee bumped her to third place in that election.) In 1978, with Jack Volrich's decision to run for Mayor independently of T.E.A.M., Brown was persuaded to stand as the T.E.A.M. mayoral candidate. Her mayoral bid failed, but she returned as alderman in 1980, serving three terms thereafter. In 1986 she decided not to seek re-election.

While on Council, Brown was Chairman of the Finance and Administration Committee, Chairman of the Council Committee on the Arts, and the Chairman of the Task Force on Day Care. On the Greater Vancouver Regional District, she was a member of the executive Committee and Chairman of the Planning Committee. Brown was a director of the Pacific National Exhibition, Chairman of the Vancouver Regional Transit Commission, and a director of BC Transit. May Brown was also an active Liberal Party member. She served as a delegate for Vancouver Quadra to the National Liberal Leadership Convention in 1984, and was a committed John Turner supporter there.

Besides civic politics, Brown involved in and contributed to sport and recreational activities. In the 1950s, she was a pioneer in the promotion and organization of women’s field hockey and synchronized swimming in B.C. From 1961-1976, Brown and her husband, Lorne, founded and directed the Camp Deka, a private camp for boys, in the Kootenays. Brown also volunteered in various recreational organizations. These included the Board of Directors of the Y.W.C.A., Board of Directors of Sport BC and the Board of Directors of the Vancouver Community Arts Council, serving as President of the Canadian Camping Association, and serving as a member of the National Advisory Council of Fitness and Amateur Sport, the BC Advisory Council for Sport and Recreation, the 1994 Commonwealth Game Society. She was a 2010 Olympic ambassador, a volunteer position appointed by VANOC to promote the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games bid.

May Brown’s contribution to the community has been acknowledged by various organizations and all levels of government. Her honours include the Order of Canada (1986), Order of BC (1993), Freedom of the City of Vancouver (1992), UBC Honourary Degree Doctor of Laws (1987), and the UBC Sports Hall of Fame (2007). In 1999, the Park Board named a park at the south end of Vancouver's Hornby Street the Lorne and May Brown Park.

May Brown passed away on March 1, 2019.


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