July 19, 2023
It is with great sadness we announce the passing of the Honourable Justice R. Neill M. Brown, our beloved husband, father, brother, and grandfather, on July 19, 2023.
Neill’s first deep roots were in Kamloops, where he was born and raised and where his parent’s families had lived since the early 1900’s. He left Kamloops for U.B.C. (Arts BA in ’70, L.L.B. in ’74) but returned to work as a C.P.R. brakeman during the Summers where he met Joan, a new graduate nurse who was raised in Nelson.
Neill had a distinguished career in litigation in Vancouver and Abbotsford, where he and Joan raised their family, Christopher, Elizabeth (Mark & Preston), and Joanne (Brian) on their Abbotsford farm. He became an expert in personal injury, specializing in brain injuries. He also became an accomplished mediator.
As his colleague, Justice Heather Holmes, said in a tribute to Neill, “his appointment to the court was a popular one with the Abbotsford bar and the local community, where he had served on several boards and had run for federal political nomination in ’84. As a lawyer he was known for his formidable preparation, his strong interest in writing, and his generous mentoring, as well as for his unusual office premises on his farm where he would pick apples for his staff and clients.
As a judge, Neill was principled and selfless, devoted to the needs of the individuals in his court room and determined to make a difference for them. As a colleague he was thoughtful and kind.”
Neill was also talented in the field of arts. Particularly literature, music, and water colours. His musical skills included singing, organ and piano performance, and composing music.
As a husband and father, Neill was steady, patient, kind, and funny. He loved to laugh and tell puns, and never missed an opportunity to teach about anything he deemed important.
He was a devout Christian and raised his family at St. James Anglican Church in Vancouver. In later years he sang in the church choir and played the organ at St. Joachim & St. Ann’s Catholic Church in Aldergrove.
He loved to ride his big lawn mower on the farm. He and Joan planted a vineyard in ’05 and he would proudly discuss the grapes and the small winery that eventually developed into Clearbrook Vineyards.
The family wishes to extend their deepest gratitude to his caregiver Lorna Lockwood, Dr. Jodi Ching, and Dr. Derkach, as well as the care team at Evergreen Terrace.
Donations may be made to St. James Anglican Church Street Outreach program or The Abbotsford Cyrus Center.
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