William Brownlie

William Brownlie

Born in New York City on September 10th, 1921, Robert William Brownlie (a Purple Heart veteran of WW II) passed away of heart failure on Saturday afternoon, March 27th 2010 at the Kelowna General Hospital, with three loving friends by his side.

Rob is survived by his daughter Pat (Robert); son Peter (Deborah) and grandsons Matthew (Ashley) and Colin (Deborah); son Andrew (Amy) and son Richard (Robin), all residing in the United States, as is the mother of his grandsons, Rev. Christine Brownlie. Rob is also survived by his devoted “rescue cat” Amy, a constant companion of more than 15 years. He was pre-deceased by his youngest son Chris (Phill) in 1989, and by his wife Dorothy in 1971.

In recent years, Rob received much-appreciated help from Kelowna Unitarian friends, particularly Suzanne Stevenson and Laila and Elvin Isaak.

After a successful early career in business, in 1958 Rob moved his young family to Maine, where he attended theological seminary, and subsequently served Unitarian congregations in Maine, Massachusetts, and Minnesota before moving to Canada during the Vietnam years. He became minister of the Unitarian Church of Edmonton, where he led the congregation for 15 years.

Upon retirement to Kelowna, Rob became well-known as a passionate supporter of civic and cultural organizations. He collected art, especially by local artists, and regularly attended theater, concerts and cultural events. Rob was a wine and food enthusiast and a frequent and appreciated patron of many of Kelowna’s fine restaurants and wineries. Even more, Rob was “the white-haired walker” until age 87, with a daily route of 15 km. or more, often along the Westside Road, but recognized with a wave by motorists all around the Okanagan. He collected cans and bottles during those walks, raising surprising amounts of money over the years for Serena Sterns and her staff at the Drop-in and Information Centre, whose work he greatly admired.

An environmentalist even before the word was popular, and with a caring heart for any person or animal “down on their luck”, few people knew the extent to which Rob lived his Unitarian Universalist beliefs and shared everything he had. Rob’s mantra: “Forgive. Love. Give.” What a tribute it would be to Rob, and a comfort to his family and friends, if anyone who is prompted to do so reaches out as he did with “a random act of kindness” — whether to the earth; to a person in need; or to the SPCA. By Rob’s wish, there will be no formal service.

Condolences may be sent to the family by visiting www.mem.com. Arrangements entrusted to First Memorial Funeral Services, Kelowna, B.C. 250-762-2299.

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