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Kevin James Brown
Descendant of one of the earliest families to settle in Albury, NSW
Submitted by Scott Brown

Kevin was born on 17 July 1928, the third child of Robert John Brown and Eliza Grace (nee Morton) of Albury, New South Wales, Australia. He was raised in Albury and, during his youth, developed life long passions for gardening and fishing. Kevin won many prizes for his gardening efforts at local shows, flowers were his forte. Even right up to his death, Kevin was proud of the certificates and ribbons his flowers had won.

Kevin started his working life with the Snowy Mountains Authority in 1945, working in the Bogong area of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electricity construction. On 23 June 1951 Kevin married Doris Rae Colwell at the Holy Trinity Church in Yackandandah, Victoria. He had resigned from the Snowy Mountains Authority at this time so that he could manage the Colwell farm at Yackandandah.

On 9 February 1952 Kevin and Rae's son, Kenneth John, was born. The birth went tragically wrong, Kenneth died the same day and Rae died twelve days later as a result of post-operative infection. Kevin was plunged from joy to the depths of despair, losing both his son and then his wife of only eight months.

Kevin continued on the Colwell farm for a while but found that he couldn't cope. He then drifted for a while until he secured a job with the Sydney Transit Authority, working as a conductor on the buses and trams in Sydney. On weekends he would visit his sister, Freda, and her husband in Adelong, NSW where Gordon, Freda's husband, was working as the Anglican minister. It was during these trips that he met Valerie Thelma Smith who would become his second wife.

Kevin and Val married on 12 December 1953, the officiating minister was Kevin's brother-in-law, Gordon Armstrong. Kevin continued working in Sydney while his new bride set-up the matrimonial home in Adelong. He would spend the working week in Sydney and hitch-hiked the 300 miles home every weekend. Kevin and Val continued this way for many years due to the State Housing Commision's inability to recognise his circumstances and allocate a commission home in Sydney to the young family. In 1959 Kevin's frustration with the Housing Commission's refusal to allocate a home to his growing family, by this time he had three children and another one on the way, prompted him to writing a letter to the Sydney Sun newspaper about their plight (A copy of the published letter is at the end of this page).

The printing of this letter had no effect on the powers that be and, two months after the birth of his fourth child, Kevin resigned his position with the Transit Authority and moved the entire family to Albury, where they lived with his widowed mother until 1966. Kevin took employment with the NSW Public Works Department as a painter, almost immediately after arriving in Albury. Three years after the move to Albury Kevin and Val's fifth child was born.

In 1966 the family moved into their own home in East Albury where Kevin established a small business, supplying fishing bait and supplies to the local anglers - he continued working with the Public Works Dept. At nights and on weekends he would travel all over NSW collecting fishing bait (yabbies, carp & bardi grubs) to keep the business stocked. He also branched out into worm farming, long before it became a fashionable industry to be in.

In the early 1970's Kevin started to display symptons of what was known locally as "Morton's Limp", a heriditary form of muscular neuropathy (Shaka Marie-Tooth Syndrome), that wastes the muscles of the body. As the disease progressed Kevin was forced to wear calipers (or leg-irons as he referred to them). In 1975 Kevin was placed on the invalid pension, he sold his business and moved to Macleay Island, just of the Soth-east coast of Queensland, it was thought that the warmer climate would reduce the rate of progression of the disease. Kevin now had time to pursue his gardening and fishing , both activities which he had continued when he had time. This combined with the constant activity whilst renovating his island home slowed the progression of the muscular neuropathy and Kevin was able to dispense with his 'leg-irons'. The family sold the house on Macleay Island in 1979 and relocated to Canberra, 4 of the children had left home by this stage. Kevin and Val divorced in 1984.

Following the divorce, Kevin remained in Canberra for a few years before moving to the NSW country town of Binalong. It was while here that he met Valda Cooper, his future third wife. Kevin and Valda spent twelve years together, living in Valda's home at Booroowa, NSW. On a fishing trip in 1992, Kevin had a heart attack and was evacuated from his fishing camp in outback New South Wales by the Royal Flying Doctor Service. The damage to Kevin's heart was extensive and he was scheduled to undergo a quadruple bypass operation in August that year.

Kevin and Valda married at Woden Valley Hospital in Canberra, ACT on 22 August 1992, the day before Kevin's operation. He gradually recovered fronm the surgery and rturned home with his wife. Over the next five years Kevin and Valda pursued their life passions. During Booroowa's cold winters they would spend their time fishing at Karunda, on the Gulf of Carpentaria in Australia's tropical north and in the warmer months they would be at home in Booroowa, where Kevin grew flowers to supply the cut-flower market in nearby Canberra.

Kevin James Brown was a skilled Cabinet Maker, artist, gardener, businessman and angler. He passed away on 7 November 1997 and will be forever in the minds of his wife Valda, his five children, eleven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren and will be fondly remembered by his many friends. 

Following is the content of a letter, written by Kevin, to the Sydney Sun newspaper in 1959. Thisletter was published in the 'Keeping Posted' column.

"600 Miles to see wife - I read with sympathy of the young couple who are living away from their children and about the Housing Commission saying their need is 'not critical enough' for emergency accomodation. I get the same reply when I go to the Commission.
........My wife and children (three girls aged five, four and two years) live in the little town of Adelong, nearly 300 miles from Sydney, where I work. We have lived like this for nearly two years.
........I travel down every weekend from Sydney to make sure they have enough of everything they need, like firewood. It hgets very cold down there in winter.
........We need to have two fires going just about all day and night and that takes a lot of wood. We could not afford to buy it, as it is impossible for my wife to work because of the ages of the children.
........The chaps I work with at Willoughby Bus Depot are very good. The change me the shifts I want so I can get away Friday afternoons. The only way I can get to Adelong and back is to hitchhike because the train fare is 4/19/-.
........I don't know why the Housing Commission can not give us emergency accomodation at Bradfield Park, because a chap who lived there said there were a lot of empty huts there.
........I find I cannot keep up going home because 600 miles every weekend is getting too much, and I am too tired on Maonday to do my work as a bus conductor.
........The Housing Commission has it's right name when called HeartBreak House. - Kevin J. Brown, Millers Point.

More details regarding the ancestors of Kevin can be found on Scott Brown's Web Pages
"Convicts, Characters and Cads"

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Last modified: May 20, 2006