Landscapes 15
Official Obituary of

David Lyle Brown

March 2, 1943 ~ January 13, 2024 (age 80) 80 Years Old

David Brown Obituary

Dave passed away peacefully in his sleep on January 13, after brief illness and rapid decline due to cancer.  He was surrounded with love through to the end by his spouse Christine Carson, children Alistair, Claire, Nicole and Valerie, sister Linda and extended family and friends.  The family is super grateful to Dave's GP Jonathan Kerr and our local community care palliative nursing team, who made it possible for Dave to end his life comfortably at home in Comox BC.   

Dave was a Vancouver Island boy, born in Victoria while his father was away serving in World War II.  Once reunited postwar, his parents John and Alice established a homestead in the Port Alberni area at Sproat Lake where they raised their family – Philip, Dave and his beloved baby sister Linda.  There was always a touch of the wild child in Dave.  As a teen he was an accomplished violinist, but also a pink-shirt-wearing Little Richard fan sporting a perfectly groomed ducktail.

Dave launched full speed into life on all fronts after high school, commencing his undergraduate degree at the University of British Columbia, marrying his high school sweetheart Doreen Hall and welcoming their daughter Valerie into the family by the time he was 20.  Finishing up at UBC with a gold medal for academic achievement, Dave and his family moved on to the University of California at Davis, where he completed both his M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in Botany in a combined total of three years and enjoyed the opportunity his research provided to collect samples in the Napa Valley (algae and wine!).  The family then headed east, where Dave worked as a postdoctoral fellow at Yale University before finding his forever job as a professor at the University of Ottawa in the Department of Biology.

As a professor, Dave was a skilled microscopist, a committed, well-loved teacher and a passionate cell biology researcher interested in the structures responsible for cell shape and the functional transport of molecules within cells.  Highlights of his academic life included:

Supervision and mentorship of forty Masters students, PhD candidates and postdoctoral fellows, plus many undergraduate researchers.  Dave pushed his students past their comfort zones to discover their true potential and included them in memorable travel adventures to scientific conferences.

Participation in granting panels and numerous research grants awarded, including more than 25 years of continuous funding received from NSERC (the National Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada) from the founding of that agency through to his retirement.

University of Ottawa Department of Biology Chair 1993-1999

Leadership of professional societies, including the Canadian Federation of Biological Societies (1993-1997) and the Canadian Council of University Biology Chairs (1994-1999)

Organization of scientific research conferences, including an International Congress of Cell Biology held in Montreal in 1988

Co-editor of the scholarly journal Biochemistry and Cell Biology (1993-1999)

Sabbaticals spent abroad and in Vancouver, most notably at the CNRS (Centre national de la recherche scientifique) cell biology research station at Villefranche-sur-Mer in France, located on the shores of the Mediterranean – another great place for science and wine.

Ottawa was also a place for several cycles of great personal change for Dave.  In 1977 Dave and Doreen divorced and by 1980 he had remarried, to Anne Benedek.  Together they welcomed their daughter Nicole into the family in 1982.  Dave’s interests in food and cooking emerged during this period, inspired by his time in France during his first sabbatical.  This second marriage ended in the mid-eighties and there followed for Dave a number of years focused on raising Nicole, on being a grandfather to Valerie’s children Michael and Julia, on the pleasures of his work and on exploring his interests.  Dave truly embraced his inner Frenchman, growing his knowledge and appreciation of fine food, wine, women, aboriginal and modern art and music.  Together with Nicole he travelled internationally, took up skiing and almost mastered the perfect ballerina bun hairstyle.  In 1992 Dave began a relationship with Christine Carson, who shared his interests in science, food and art and who would remain his life partner for more than 30 years.  Together they welcomed their daughter Claire into the family in 1999, followed (a bit surprisingly) by their son Alistair in 2001. 

Dave took early retirement in 2002 and the family returned to his BC roots, relocating first to Vancouver and then in 2009 to Comox.  Dave became an experienced bike traveler during this period, enjoying many cycling trips in Ontario, the Pacific Northwest and France with his friends George, Ban and Kem.  He and Christine spent the kids growing-up years focused on their children’s interests in sports (soccer/hockey) and theater and sharing family adventures camping, cycling and skiing together.  Four great-grandchildren joined the family during this time: Jacob, Kenny, Madeline and Harrison. When Alistair and Claire were finishing high school/starting university the family shared what would be a last, excellent international adventure visiting London, Paris and Dave’s old sabbatical haunts in the south of France for his 75th birthday. 

The start of the pandemic was especially difficult for Dave, as he was diagnosed with neurodegeneration in the spring of 2020.  With time he learned to cope with his symptoms and by 2023 was able to enjoy a particularly good year that reflected the deep connection to family and the love of travel that had characterized so much of his life.  All of Dave's children gathered in March to celebrate his 80th birthday with an excellent weekend in Tofino.  He and Christine enjoyed a nice visit to his U of O haunts in Ottawa and his birthday present - taking the train across Canada - in May.  After that came trips with Claire and Alistair to Alberta and Ontario to attend family weddings in July and September.  And Dave finished 2023 with the happy news that a new great-grandchild is expected next summer. 

Two celebrations of life are planned for Dave – one in the Okanagan for family and friends in May and another open to all interested in Ottawa in June, details TBC.  Please contact the family at davidlylebrown@shaw.ca for more information. For those who may wish to donate in Dave’s memory, a gift to the University of Ottawa or a charity supporting aboriginal culture (such as the First People’s Cultural Foundation) would be appropriate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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