Neil Brown Obituary, Death – We regret to inform you that our loving husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather passed away on January 24th, 2008, at the age of 72. Neil is survived by his loving wife Marilyn of 49 years, daughters Kathy Gow (Ron) and grandson Bryan, Karren Brown (Lance Adams) and grandson Christopher (Tara) Zanidean, granddaughters Jennifer Zanidean (Bill Dyck) and Erin Zanidean (Matt Bradley) and their father Ed Zanidean, and son Kenneth Brown. (Lori Cassie and son Steven). Neil is also survived by his three darling great-granddaughters Patience and Grace Dyck, as well as Megan Zanidean, as well as his sister-in-law Mary Brown and other nieces and nephews. Neil was preceded in death by his parents, Benjamin and Laura Brown, as well as his siblings Thearon (WWII), Lawerence, Gordon (Shorty), Burnard, Clair, Bruce, and Dewayne, as well as his only sister Mary (Sis) Johnson, nephew Danny Nelson, and his adored mother-in-law Helen Sawatsky. Neil was born on December 31, 1935, in Gull Lake, Saskatchewan, the youngest of nine children.
He grew raised in the Antelope school district and attended Kemmill Hill. Neil attended Moose Jaw and Gull Lake High Schools for his secondary education. Neil took over the family agricultural and sheep ranching operation after his parents retired in 1957. Neil married his Forever Sweetheart Marilyn Sawatsky on November 17, 1958. They lived on the Brown family farm until 1963, when they relocated to Gull Lake with their two young girls. Neil moved his family to Shackleton, Saskatchewan, where he ran a grocery shop as well as a small implement business in Abbey, Saskatchewan, after a brief stint driving a dry-cleaning truck. Neil and Marilyn took over the Skating Rink concession for a short time when the family returned to Gull Lake. Neil, who never lost his love for the farm, finally started a custom combining firm and spent the next few years following the harvest from Texas to Canada. The family was fortunate with the birth of their third child, a son, during this time. Neil sold the combining equipment and founded the Gull Lake Food Centre because family was so important to him. (later to become the IGA). After selling the grocery shop, he moved to work for Wilton Motors in Swift Current, where he repeatedly received the ‘Top Salesman’ title.
Neil developed and maintained Central Sales as a local auto dealership and repair business as a result of his success in car sales. During this time, he also opened the Pop-Inn, an arcade/pool hall/hamburger shack where his girls and their friends could work. For several years, Neil also drove a school bus on the Webb route. Neil proceeded to work as a grader operator for the RM of Piapot and the RM of Webb after these firms closed. He then went into trucking, hauling oil for Klassen Bros, Goulet Trucking, and then Koch Oil. Neil eventually gave in to his lifelong passion for antiques and opened three antique stores in Gull Lake. He enjoyed chatting with his clients and at auction sales, and he made many new and lasting friendships. He also sold antiques online and had consumers from as far away as Japan. Neil was always interested in local sports, playing baseball with several teams including the Lakers, and he was one of the creators of the ‘Queen and Her Court’ baseball club, who challenged the local ladies softball team to a match.
Over the years, he also became a hockey referee and officiated several games in town. Neil enjoyed fishing and had several fly-in fishing trips up north in addition to trying his luck at all the local places. He was a passionate curler who took multiple trips to Nelson, BC for the mid-summer bonspeil with his friends. Neil took a once-in-a-lifetime vacation in 1972, traveling across Canada and to Russia for the Canada-Russia Summit hockey series. He relished recalling the “shot heard ’round the world” when Paul Henderson scored the game-winning goal. Neil was a B.P.O. Elks member who served as the Exaulted Ruler. From 1976 to 1978, he was a member of the municipal council. He also became an honorary Kinsmen member, officiating at their local hockey games and attending the Perogie Cup. Neil spent his free time with his buddies playing cribbage, bridge, whist, and poker. He also dabbled in woodworking and made several beautiful memories for his family. He was a staple at coffee row and enjoyed meeting with his pals every day.
Above all, Neil was a devoted family man. He took his family on amazing vacations and provided us with memories to last a lifetime. He instilled in his children the importance of hard work and honesty. Those who knew him well recognized that, beyond the occasionally brusque appearance, he was not just a sincere and loyal friend, but also a very good and decent man. Neil will be greatly missed by everybody who knew him, and those of us who loved him will never forget him.