The gift of Grace
Grace Brown has spent many years working to help the needy and less fortunate. Gillian Gubbins spoke to Grace in Barwon Heads.
GRACE Brown was born at Connewarre near Barwon Heads in 1922. She was educated at the Barwon Heads school as was her grandfather, father and her three children, making them the fourth generation of her 5 family to attend the little school number 1544.
In fact the 1899 school photo featuring her father stands proudly amongst the many treasures displayed in Grace's delightfully small Barwon Heads home where she has lived for the past 45 years.
Her childhood was simple and happy, the family all tackling the farm chores together, travelling to church regularly each Sunday in the family's horse drawn jinker and walking the five kilometre route to school and back each day.
Grace Brown is a people's person and her extensive and close-knit family appear to possess strains of unusual longevity which she attributes from her hereditary farming stock which can be traced back to 1066. An interesting family photograph taken in 1930 shows her grandparents surrounded by their 24 grandchildren, 22 of whom are still alive today.
Today Grace feels strongly that the importance of preserving the family unit is sometimes over looked. "Perhaps," she says, "we are living in a selfish world where tolerance and commitment are sometimes forgotten."
It was in 1945 at a Ball in the Barwon Heads Hall that Grace first met her future husband, Ernie Brown, a resident of Lake Bolac, who had recently returned from War service in the Middle East and New Guinea. Ernie was one of the party of eleven who, after the order from General Monash, "...it is now every man for himself', trekked for several months across New Guinea living on wild pig and rice boiled in sea water.
Grace recently had printed the diary registering a daily account of the problems confronted by these men during the horrendous struggle for survival, so that her three children may have a record of this ordeal experienced by their father.
Perhaps it is her interest in people and her willingness to help those less fortunate than herself that contributes to her happy nature. Grace has been a member of the Royal Victoria Institute for the Blind Auxiliary (RVIB) for more than 25 years. In 1981 she published The History of Barwon Heads, a small booklet now in its third reprint from which all the proceeds are donated to the RVIB. The Institute recognized Grace's outstanding contribution by appointing her a Life Governor, recently.
She has been a member of the Barwon Heads RSL for more than 40 years and is the recipient of their highest award, Certificate of Merit. The church guild, Red Cross, Hospice and Legacy are all enthusiastically supported and worked for by Grace.
Recently Grace completed writing her family history and her memoirs. She enjoys gardening sewing and knitting and when opportunity permits, loves to travel. Last year she travelled alone to England for the first time.
Some of the walls of Grace's home display beautifully framed photographs depicting favorite spots of her travels while others display magnificent tapestries worked by Grace in her spare time. This type of needlework is probably her favorite hobby and for each of her seven grandchildren she has worked a very special tapestry as a gift for their 18th Birthday.
She is always there when her family need her, but respects that they all have their own commitments and interest, so for as long as it is possible, she plans to live on her own in Barwon Heads, the village by the sea, an idyllic place made richer by the presence of a woman who cares .... Grace Brown.