The South Okanagan has lost a pillar of the business community and tireless supporter of local charities.
Bob Brown, owner of Bob Brown GM, died in his sleep on Sunday at the age of 67.
“Bob was a wonderful guy. He had an incredible sense of humour and just a great love of his community and family,” said Janet Parker, president of the Penticton Automotive Dealers Association.
Parker said she first met Brown and his wife Toni when they moved to the community about 27 years ago. She remembers him for his passion for fundraising on behalf of women’s and children’s charities with the PADA.
Kevin Lamb, general manager at Bob Brown GM, said he has been receiving calls from across the country from people Brown has touched. Brown worked as a banker for many years and ended up working through the ranks at Carter GM in Vancouver. He eventually bought Carter GM in Penticton, and over his 27 years Brown successfully expanded the business and sold some 24,000 vehicles along the way.
“It is a big loss. It is like losing a family member here because he considered everyone working here as family. He was very full of energy, lived life to its fullest and wasn’t happy if everyone around him wasn’t laughing,” said Lamb, who worked with Brown for 13 years. “Everybody who I have talked to that has ever met Bob, even if it was for five minutes, they remember him. What they really remember is his sense of humour and how much he loved a good joke and loved to repeat it.”
Lamb said Brown knew every employee’s name, their spouse’s name and their kids. It was the reason, Lamb said, why many of the staff remain working at the dealership since Brown bought it. As the dealership just underwent a million dollar renovation Brown had been spending a lot of time in the office, but Lamb said he slowly had been stepping back to semi-retirement to spend time golfing, landscaping his property and to be with his family.
“His philosophy as the owner of the business was his job was to reduce stress for people that worked for him. And he did a good job of doing that,” said Lamb.
The general manager recalls many of the pranks Brown would pull around the dealership. Lamb said Brown would shut out the lights just at the moment a customer was about to put their pen to the final paperwork so they couldn’t see what they were signing. Another time he pulled yellow police tape across the doors and announced to not let the customers leave until they certified the cheque.
Penticton Mayor Dan Ashton is a personal friend of the Brown family and their neighbour in Trout Creek. Ashton remembers Brown as being the life of any event and as a man that could never say no when it came to community involvement.
“I can’t say enough about Bob, Toni his wife and Kim and Derek his children. Bob was a huge contributor to this community and the surrounding area. Our hearts go out to his family” said Ashton. “Bob was a man full of continual one-line zingers. You may have heard them dozens of times but you still laugh at them. It wasn’t the joke or the delivery — it was the gentleman behind it.”
A celebration for Brown’s life will be held at the Penticton Lakeside Resort on Wednesday, July 20 at 2 p.m. In lieu of flowers, the family is asking donations be made to the South Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation.
“We would like to invite everyone to come out and all we ask is please bring some new jokes,” said Lamb.