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SVG loses a nation builder

SVG loses a nation builder

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The woman who many considered the First Lady of the Marriaqua Valley will be laid to rest tomorrow.

Velma Venita Browne, known to almost everyone as Aunty Velma passed away quietly at her home in Mesopotamia on Sunday October 19th. She was seventy-six years old.{{more}}

She was the wife of well-known businessman Thomas Augustus “Chippy” Browne, having married him on January 10, 1948 when she was only seventeen years old.

The Brownes’ generosity and hospitality were legendary. As Liley Cato, who grew up in their home describes it, “It was a house of plenty and there was everything that was needful. At their table, milk and honey flowed.” Her demonstrations of care were always genuine and she was counselor, negotiator and confidante to many persons.

Their home was also a haven to many, and according to Cato, “Their home in the valley became a sanctuary for needful souls. It was an oasis – a fertile spot in life’s barren desert for too many. As rumours of their goodness multiplied, the home population grew. The home I reminisce was alive with congeniality and warmth. There were many siblings.”

She was mother to Gwenneth Forde, General Manager of E.D. Layne & Sons; Kenneth Browne, Chairman of St. Vincent Building and Loan Association and former parliamentary representative for Marriaqua; Brendon Browne, retired Cabinet Secretary and Consul General of the OECS to Ottawa; Charmaine, a medical doctor and Damian. Besides the “blood” children of the home, she raised and supported numerous others.

Mrs Browne possessed fierce business acumen. Working with her husband “Chippy”, their business expanded from a small grocery shop at Freeland, into the spice processing business and culminated in an impressive two-storey department store, Velma Browne & Son at Sharpe Street in Kingstown. At the department store, popularly known as “Chippy’s”, many persons found employment, certainly far beyond the needs of the business, but they were hired in an effort to help.

For the last fourteen years of her life, Mrs Browne had been stricken by ill-health, and had been unable to communicate verbally. However, her beauty was undiminished and her face still resonated love, understanding and warmth. To the end, she lived up to the name given to her in her youth: “Smile”.

Mrs. Browne’s funeral service will be held at the Mesopotamia Methodist Church on October 25th and will begin at 2 p.m.