PASSING OF AN ICONIC MAN: WILLIAMS PATRICK BROWN
Williams Patrick Brown, affectionately known as Pat Brown, passed away on Monday this week at 12.15 p.m. after a brief illness. He was 94 years old. His name was, for most of his professional life in Saint Lucia, synonymous with the science of engineering, a fact in which he took much pride.
Pat was born in Laborie on 7th June, 1923. His mother passed away when he was only nine months old so he did not have the opportunity to bond with her. Of course in those days there was no photography so we have no idea what grandma looked like. Pat was raised in Laborie by his aunts and uncle on his father’s side: Ada, Rose and Lan. His father, Mr. Daniel Mason, married and that union produced eleven children: five boys and six girls. Pat was proud to refer to the whole brood as his brothers and sisters. Pat proudly, if sadly, played his role whenever a family member passed. They included sister, aunts and uncle, his grandson Sawandi Goddard, his son Winston Brown, and his cousin Hiram Mason.
He was successful at the Common Entrance Examinations which entitled him to enrollment at St. Mary’s College but he was unable to attend. However, before starting higher education, he home schooled himself. He worked with his dad who was foreman at the Castries City Council, then migrated first to Curacao and then to England.
In 1951 he worked as an architectural and engineering draughtsman at the Public Works Department in Saint Lucia. Over the years he undertook similar assignments in St. Vincent, Grenada and the Grenadines. In 1959 he returned to England to undertake formal training in engineering, accumulating several awards and a fellowship. He would later undertake successful engineering assignments at home as well as in Barbados and Grenada.
Pat was the engineer in the construction of the Dennery, Micoud, Vieux Fort (Campus A and B) secondary schools. Meanwhile he was also working on the construction of still another secondary school in Montserrat. In 1989 he constructed the road to Jalousie Hilton, and at some point also undertook some construction work at the Anse Chastanet Hotel. Every time we visited the Auberge Seraphine he reminded me, with pride, that he built the hotel. He also contributed to building at Point Seraphine.
Pat Brown’s name will also forever be linked with the construction of this island’s first overhead pedestrian bridges in 2006. He also completed projects in Boston and New York, U.S.A. but it is in connection with the bridge on Manoel Street, Castries that his name is most mentioned locally. Painted in blue and white it has stood the test of time and hurricanes that seemed to flatten everything else.
In 1972 Pat constructed his own magnificent mansion in Bon Air, Marisule. The architecture was ahead of its time. I have never seen another house like it. It looks quite simple viewed from the outside but it was an altogether different matter when the viewer stepped inside. No wonder visitors to the home that Pat built looked forward with excitement to the experience: an architectural marvel. Local banks booked it months ahead of time for their staff parties. Then there was the Octagon club at Vigie Cove, remembered with fondness by folks of a certain age. To say the least, the club was very well patronized.
Obviously Pat Brown loved to build things. He had this grand idea of constructing a resort named Vigie Point Hotel. The concept was that persons who would like to overnight (particularly business persons) would drift to the hotel from Vigie Airport, overnight and also work from the hotel. The hotel would feature a rooftop restaurant, and, alas, an uncompleted convention centre.
Pat also loved his children, grandchildren and greatgrandchildren. He was very generous and encouraged all of us to get a profession. He was always eager to sponsor us in any field of endeavour we wished to pursue, in Saint Lucia and overseas. Sometimes he even chose the profession. But the young nearly always end up doing their own thing. Pat was not very happy when our brother Wayne decided to be a pilot. Often he would say, “I do not feel comfortable when Wayne is in the air.” But Wayne pursued his career anyway and successfully worked with LIAT and another company in the USA where he was promoted from officer to captain. Oh, Pat was ecstatic about Wayne’s successes and especially enjoyed the perks that went with being the father of the pilot. Today Wayne flies Southwest Airlines, based in Houston, Texas.
Carol, Pat’s first child and matriarch of the family, is a properties manager also engaged in sales and marketing. She resides with her husband, Dr. Michael Monrose in Tortola. Herma is a qualified linguist. She trains BWIA staff in England.
I, Mary, chose the secretarial profession even though I preferred to be a teacher. I remember Pat saying to me: “What? Teacher? There is no money in teaching. You’d do better as a secretary; you’ll make much more.” So he sponsored my secretarial training both in Saint Lucia and overseas. Currently I work as a freelance lecturer in office administration.
Sharon is in real estate, is a systems analyst, and is also involved in events planning. She brought to Saint Lucia such music icons as Buju Banton, Steele Pulse, Junior Reid, Wayne Wonder, and Patra, seemingly all on her own, but Pat was always there in the background if she needed a shoulder. Sharon resides in New York.
Wendy is a Spanish lecturer/translator with a minor in journalism.
Winston’s (Pat chose his profession as an electrical engineer) life was cut short when he was murdered in his home in Rodney Bay in 2013.
Sean is a freelance person, working with various companies and individuals.
Courtney attends the St. Joseph Convent. Hopefully she will learn much about her father from these recollections.
Pat Brown is survived by his wife, Curtree.
Pat served his country well. In recognition of his outstanding works he was awarded the MBE from the Queen of England in 2004 for his achievements in engineering. In 2014 he gained a Lifetime Achievement Award in engineering from the St. Lucia Engineering Association.
As Rick Wayne generally recalled on his TALK show on Thursday evening this week, Pat was a prolific, often controversial newspaper columnist who contributed scores of articles to the STAR as well as other local papers. He wrote on a range of subjects: politics, social issues, economic matters and, of course, subjects relating to civil engineering.
We are happy to report our father wrote his autobiography, which has been edited and is ready for the printers. Among his closest friends: Mr. Neville Skeete whom he visited every Sunday; the former government minister Calixte George; Dr. Richardson St. Rose. They all met at Mr. Skeete’s to discuss matters, both current and long past. Oh, how father looked forward to those Sunday get-togethers! He never permitted ill health to stop him from doing the things he loved which included walking, paying his utility bills and attending court sessions. The day before he took his final breath he was at his computer writing about a particular case. Yes, his brain functioned normally even at age 94.
Although we will all miss him dearly, we thank God for sparing him a prolonged illness. Pat Brown lived a good, full life. He will now rest in peace in a place where there is no night, no fear and no pain. Pat’s burial date will be announced shortly. Rest in peace Dad. Thanks for all you did for your family and others unrelated. We will forever be proud to call you father.
Pat Brown and his daughter Wendy.