Jan. 20, 1937-Dec. 26, 2016
Vern Brown, 79, died on Monday, Dec. 26, 2016, at the Long Term Care Facility at South Peninsula Hospital. Vern was the second child born to Mary E. (Charlton) and Melvin L. Brown on Jan. 20, 1937, in Los Angeles, Calif. His adolescent years were spent in the community of Eagle Rock, Calif., where he attended Eagle Rock High School and graduated in 1955. Vern had many fond memories of that time in his life. He excelled in sports in high school, particularly football, and became a life-long sports fan.
Following high school, Vern enlisted in the U.S. Army, served several years in Germany and received an honorable discharge. After his stint in the Army, Vern went to flight school under the GI Bill and worked to develop and operate his own flight school business, the 500 Flight Club, in Concord, Calif. His students included the racing legends A. J. Foyt and Parnelli Jones, who would also use Vern’s hanger to work on their Indy race cars. Vern was very honored to be asked to work on the pit crew for Parnelli Jones’s racing team during the 1963 Indy 500 race.
In 1964, Vern decided to leave urban southern California for the majesty of Alaska and drove the Alaska Highway to Alaska in his 1957 Chevy, which burned four quarts of oil per tank of gas. He worked a number of jobs in Anchorage, including driving delivery trucks for Montgomery Wards and Conright’s Furniture, before moving to Homer in the early 1970s to work in the fishing industry. Vern first worked as a deckhand, then as an engineer, and finally skipper on many of the larger fishing vessels, tenders, and other boats out of Homer, Kodiak, Seward, Cordova and Dutch Harbor. A short list of vessels includes the Sea Wife, Big Valley, Bessy M, Time Bandit, Widgeon II and the Lady Patricia. He also worked several seasons for Coal Point Seafoods on the Homer Spit when fishing was slow.
Following a stroke in 1997, Vern had to retire from the maritime industry to recuperate, living several years in Crescent City, Calif., and Leavenworth, Wash., supported by family and friends until he was able to make his way back to Homer in 2004. In 2007, he suffered another debilitating stroke that required several years of hospitalization, but he continued to fight back and worked extremely hard to overcome his physical limitation.
Vern enjoyed socializing with friends, playing music and rooting for his Seattle Seahawks. He also got a lot of enjoyment following the annual Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. He was a big fan of Susan Butcher and, in recent years, Aliy Zirkle.
Vern was preceded in death by his mother, Mary (Charlton) Brown, and his father, Melvin Brown.
He is survived by his sister, Avril Lebanc of Banff, Alberta, and his niece, Kathi (Rick) Wier, of Kalowna, B.C. No services are planned. Vern’s ashes will be scattered in Kachemak Bay at a later date. Condolences can be sent to Avril Leblanc, P.O. Box 2053, Banff, Alberta, Canada T1L-1B8. Donations can be made in Vern’s name to Hospice of Homer, 265 E. Pioneer Ave, Homer, AK 99603. For more information, contact Dave Erikson, 907 441-7931.
Very deep appreciation goes out to Vern’s caregivers in Homer at the Terraces Assisted Living Facility, the Long Term Care at the South Peninsula Hospital in Homer, the staff at the Homer Medical Clinic and HANDLE of Homer.