Ocean Beach 11

David J Brown

October 14, 1953 ~ September 5, 2021 (age 67)


On Sunday, September 5, 2021, David Jeffery Brown I passed away at the age of 67. David was born on October 14th, 1953, in Ware, MA, near where he would spend the first 18 years of his life. David, his mom and dad, and his sister grew up in Barre, MA. David attended Ruggles Lane Grade School, Barre Center School, and graduated from Quabbin Regional Junior High School. Art was never his best subject, being color blind, but despite believing all things toned red and green were brown, he was always an extremely creative thinker. His father, Henry, was the ultimate tinkerer, and David had the same addiction to figuring out how things worked and learning-by-doing very early on. The skill of building, fixing, and creating would ultimately become his life’s work. It didn’t matter if he was working with wood, leather, or pencil and paper, if he put his hand to it, it was beautiful. Growing up, David loved waterskiing, swimming, movies (recording some with his sister, Karen, with an old movie camera), his dog Wiggles, and of course, playing his harmonica. In high school, he developed a fondness for English literature, and he would go on to study theater in college. He was the first person to go to college from his family, attending Westfield State College (now University) and graduating with a degree in Theater (after directing a few plays.) It was at Westfield State, in the Student Union, that he met Gail Gauthier, and he asked her out immediately. He used to write her name in the snow outside the college, carve her name in trees, and write her sappy poetry that his children would later gag while reading. David made Gail a purse out of leather, and it became a popular item at Westfield State, so much so in fact, that David helped pay his college loans off by making purses and belts, and selling them out of the back of his blue Mustang. They got married in 1977, after five years of dating, and began settling into their lives in Westfield. David worked at Westfield Woodworking for many years, and they first lived in a duplex on Dartmouth Street in Westfield, but decided to use David’s skill of carpentry and build a home. They bought property on Ridge Trail Road and built a house from the ground up (even sleeping in the living room before the sheetrocking was done on the second floor.) They planned every inch of that house together, and they learned that they were at their best when they were building and creating as a team. They raised two children in the house David built, Vanessa and David II. David I would go on to earn his master’s from Westfield State in Occupational Education, after which he transitioned from working in a shop to teaching, and working as an administrator, at Putnam Vocational Technical High School. He absolutely loved to teach, winning the Excellence in Teaching Award in 2001. He also taught at Westfield State as an adjunct professor. In 2009, David would take on building another house-- this one not exactly from the ground up, but from the ocean up. He worked tirelessly for a year straight, transforming the “Beach House” in Narragansett, Rhode Island, from what was a rundown cottage to everyone’s favorite place. David opened up his own business, Brown Woodworking, in 2012, and eventually began working at Westek Architectural Woodworking in Westfield. David accomplished so much. David Brown hated sports. Despised them. Unfortunately, his kids were born loving all things competitive (perhaps spurred on by family game night every Sunday). When Vanessa began playing softball, and Davey wanted to play soccer, David spent nights at Barnes and Noble reading books on softball, baseball, and soccer. That gesture alone showed a level of dedication to his children, but that wasn’t enough. David didn’t just try and learn every minutia of the sports they were interested in (that he hated)...Gail signed him up to coach. (Gail forcing David to do things happened a lot and should surprise no one.) David would go on to coach every single sport, for every single season, that his kids played. For sports he never even played himself. Just to be with his kids. Vanessa became obsessed with the Red Sox? Let me buy her season tickets so we can go to games together. Davey likes to snowboard? I will learn to snowboard (read: fall). The kids love Badminton? Let me chalk out a court and help organize a giant tournament. And, to top it off, every single activity he involved himself in, and everywhere he went, he built something. He built Vanessa a giant wall to pitch against in the yard; he built tables and a bar at the Blandford Ski area. If you turn your head slightly, in any direction, in any spot David went, he fixed or built something there. It seems hyperbolic, but David Brown absolutely made everything better, wherever he went. The world was improved with him in it, and there is a giant hole left now that he’s gone. David was a giver. He gave to anyone and everyone, even if at a loss to himself. Christmas was always a huge event in the Brown Household. Two trees were put up, the attic bursting with decorations and boxes that would literally fall down the hole in the ceiling. David loved making people happy, and Christmas was the perfect stage to display that character trait. Gail wanted no loops in her christmas lights, so David would stand outside in all temperatures wrapping each individual branch of every tree out front with strings of lights. (He would never do this task, or really any task, without many, many explativies, but somehow that didn’t take away from the deed itself.) “They make these strings cheap, so they break every year, so you have to buy new ones. What a crock,” he’d say as he tested every tangled string in the garage before climbing a ladder to get the tallest branch. But Gail loved them, so it wasn’t even a question. He just did for people. If you asked David what made him happy, he’d struggle to answer. He loved to travel, and by the time Vanessa and David graduated college, they had visited over 20 different countries, with Grandma Jean by their side. David would always drive overseas, and Gail would constantly grip her seat in a white-fisted panic while he flew down the autobahn or swerved around the narrow roads of Italy and Greece. He was a traveler and a wanderer. You’d mostly see David getting in or out of a car, with his case of harmonicas, headed somewhere. If anyone even slightly suggested they were struggling with a task, it was almost compulsory that David start driving toward the problem to fix it, often uninvited. He’d always be drinking a coffee, or a Coke, and he’d have his dog, Tucker, in the seat next to him. He’d often just show up places; Vanessa’s kids would see his truck slowly ambling up the street and scream, “Poppy’s here!”, and run outside to greet him. What made David happy was being needed. And his expertise in all things made him constantly needed. If you were to have asked David a week ago if he were content with his life, he’d say something sarcastic and weird and random, for sure, at first. But he would say his proudest accomplishment wasn’t building two homes by hand, creating beautiful furniture that people love and use all across Western Massachusetts, reading and understanding and loving James Joyce, reciting lines from Richard the III in the ruins of amphitheaters across the world, getting his kids to love the written word passionately (like he did) by reading them both The Hobbit while they were in the womb, mastering the art of both Cabinetmaking and teaching, or having been married successfully and lovingly for 42 years (seems like only yesterday, he’d say, when celebrating an anniversary with Gail). All of those are huge, gigantic accomplishments; even having that large a list is proof of a life well-lived. But those wouldn't be his answer. David’s answer would be that his main purpose in life was to make sure his kids could be successful and self-sufficient in the world. And he absolutely believed he had already done that. He was most proud and content with his life because of his children. He’d say, “They were the best thing I’ve ever made.” David lived his life building things, fixing things, and making things better; one of his last completed projects was putting in a “princess light” in Abigail's room, just because he thought she needed it. (Abigail is still finding screws and random tools in her crib.) It is hard to imagine a world where he won’t be doing that for us, but it’s comforting to know we have so many places to look and see him. He left an indelible, tangible mark on the world. “Live, then, and be happy, beloved children of my heart, and never forget that until the day when God shall deign to reveal the future to man, all human wisdom is summed up in these two words,— ‘Wait and hope.” (Edmund Dantes-The Count of Monte Cristo). David is preceded in death by his father, Henry Brown, and his mother, Stella Brown. He is survived by his sister, Karen Brown, his wife, Gail Brown, his daughter, Vanessa, and her husband, Josh, his son, David, and his grandchildren, Henry and Abigail Jean. Calling hours will be held on Sunday, September 12, 2021, from 2 pm-5 pm at Firtion-Adams Funeral Home, 76 Broad Street, Westfield, MA, 01085. Funeral Services will be held Monday, September 13, 2021, beginning at 10:30 am at St. Mary’s Church, 30 Bartlett Street, Westfield, MA, 01085.

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September 12, 2021

2:00 PM to 5:00 PM
Firtion-Adams F.S,
76 Broad Street
Westfield, MA 01085

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