Bill Browne, beloved square dance caller and lifelong fire fighter passed away Monday, September 19th 2022, at the Penticton Regional Hospital, surrounded by loved ones. He was known to many simply as dad, grandpa, great-grandpa, brother, and uncle. Bill was a friend to all, he was 90 years old.
William John David Browne was born on December 26th, 1931 in Lloydminster, Saskatchewan. He was raised and adopted by his grandparents, Rose and Martin Browne, where he soon developed an unwavering passion for family. His greatest enjoyment in life came with expanding his family. In fact he was the youngest brother of one family, the oldest of another, and the middle brother of a third. In his lifetime he had amassed eleven brothers, along with five sisters, many brothers-in-law, and many, many, sisters-in-law. Also volumes of nieces, nephews, and cousins who adored him. This does not, of course, include the hundreds of kids he unofficially adopted along the way. If you got a hug and a smile, you were in.
Bill married the love of his life, Dorothy May LaHaye, on October 11th 1952. They remained in Lloydminster until 1973, raising their three children, Brian, Bonny, and Donna. In the early years, he worked for the City of Lloydminster and soon became the Foreman of Public Works. He also worked as a mechanic, drove truck, and operated the crusher for Tuplin Gravel. He joined the Lloydminster Volunteer Fire Department before he had a driver’s license, rising through the ranks to become a Captain. In 1973, they moved to Penticton where he worked for Peerless Page as a welder and joined the Penticton Volunteer Fire Department before being hired as a federal fire fighter at the Penticton Airport Fire Department until his retirement in 1991.
As a lifelong square dancer who loved to teach others how to dance, Bill’s square dance calling career peaked in 1988 when he became President of the Penticton Square Dance Jamboree, where over 5,000 square dancers danced to his call under the stars at King’s Park. It was also the year two of his new found brothers south of the border came to meet him. One was an avid square dancer. Bill then traveled to Texas to meet a third brother. It was quite the year.
Dorothy and Bill had an insatiable appetite for travel. They crisscrossed Canada twice, once in a truck and camper, then in a campervan. They also traveled across the USA and visited states like Alaska, Southern California, Arizona and even Pennsylvania, where they visited yet another branch to their family tree. Their daughter Bonny and her husband Bill (junior) introduced them to international travel, taking them on a cruise to Alaska. They flew to Mexico, Hawaii and London England. Sadly, after celebrating their 61st wedding anniversary, Dorothy was diagnosed with cancer. She passed away on August 20th 2013. She was 79. But Bill still had the travel bug and joined Bonny and Bill once again for a trip to Australia to see his granddaughter Julie and husband Brad in Ballarat. While there, they took a cruise to Vanuatu in the Coral Sea, he was hooked. Upon returning to Canada and at the age of 82, Bill took a solo cruise through the Panama Canal from Vancouver to Florida.
He is survived by three of his eleven brothers; two of his brothers-in-law; many sisters-in-law; his three children, Brian, Bonny (Bill), and Donna (Brent); seven beautiful grandchildren; nine (soon to be ten) wonderful great-grandchildren; countless nieces and nephews, cousins and all their spouses. All will dearly miss him.
There will be a small family Graveside Interment Service at the Penticton Cemetery where Bill’s ashes will be placed with Dorothy on October 1st, 2022.
The family will be purchasing a memorial plaque and picnic table for Bill and Dorothy that will be placed in Skaha Lake Park where the family had chicken on the beach for many years. Bill’s favourite charities are the Heart Foundation and the Cancer Society. But the best tribute you could every make would be to do a kind gesture for someone you meet, smile and say it’s from Bill.