A Life's Story
April 29, 2023
‘She was superwoman’
Judy Brown’s husband, daughters and grandchildren came first, but a deep love of sports as a participant and spectator played a large part in the Manitoba Curling Hall of Fame inductee’s life
By: Katrina Clarke
Judy Brown was the kind of grandmother who would be waiting in her grandkids’ driveway in the wee hours of Christmas morning, rushing inside the moment she saw the lights turn on.
She was the kind of mom who built her life around her daughters and their activities, shuttling their teammates to and from so many sports games she was known affectionately to many as “Mom Brown.”
She was the kind of best friend who called just to chat every morning for decades.
She was a volunteer. A loving wife. A multitasker extraordinaire and an organizer so highly regarded in the Manitoba curling community she was inducted into the Manitoba Curling Hall of Fame last year.
Brown died July 9 at the age of 83.
“She had a great life,” said her best friend Lee Chalmers, who lives in Pickering, Ont.
Chalmers remembers when the two women were in their 20s, they set off on a road trip to Miami in a car that had no air conditioning. They flew to Seattle for the World’s Fair. Brown even inspired Chalmers to travel around Europe for a few weeks by herself, a feat she had undertaken on her own, too.
“She was more confident than me, I have to say,” Chalmers said.
Even when Chalmers left Winnipeg and both friends started their own families, the two kept in close touch, visiting as often as possible. When Brown got a phone plan that gave her unlimited long distance, she called Chalmers every day at 8:30 a.m. just to chat. It was a ritual they carried on for 20 years, one that became less frequent only when Brown developed Alzheimer’s.
Chalmers says her friend’s pride and joy in life were her daughters, Pamela and Andrea.
“She was superwoman,” said Andrea Pimlott. “There was never a time she wasn’t there for us.”
Pimlott recalls camping in the summer at Sioux Narrows, Ont., as a carefree time for the busy family of four — a time when their father, John, a self-employed lawyer, could enjoy a rare break from work. She remembers they “played a lot of cards, had a lot of fires.” Even at the campground, her mom impressed with her top-notch home cooking, including her perfectly-cooked steak and baked potatoes.
Brown worked part-time for Statistics Canada but when she and John finally “drifted into retirement,” they spent more time at Perch Bay Resort, just outside Kenora.
“That was their happy place,” said eldest daughter Pamela Holtz. “Mom was content to read and knit. Dad fished and picked berries.”
As both daughters grew up and had families of their own, with Holtz and her family moving great distances for work, the Browns would travel to visit. She loved her four grandkids, two from each daughter, and enjoyed her role as their “No. 1 fan,” cheering the youngsters on at as many of their sporting events as possible.
Sports had always been a big part of Brown’s life. At various times, she played volleyball, curling, golf, badminton and bowling. She laced up her blades with the Assiniboine Figure Skating Club, was a Winnipeg Blue Bombers Bomberette and was a season-ticket holder for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, the Jets (WHA and 1.0) and the Goldeyes.
Holtz always knew her mom liked to be help out in the community — she was a “born volunteer” — but it wasn’t until her induction into the Manitoba Curling Hall of Fame last year that she realized how influential she was in the sport.
“The impact she made on the game was something,” said Holtz. “That was a big surprise.”
She learned her mom was “hugely” instrumental in facilitating the amalgamation of the women’s and men’s curling associations.
“The Manitoba ladies were the innovators. They were the ones leading the charge to amalgamate these two organizations,” said Holtz. “It was a big part of making the game better.”
Heather Helston of Manitoba Curling Hall of Fame knew Judy through curling going back decades. She remembers Brown’s ever-present smile and how she always looked “like she’d just come out of the salon,” Helston said.
Helston describes her as a gentle – but tactful — leader.
“She wouldn’t sit back … she got the job done,” she said.
Holtz wonders if her mom was “born in the wrong era,” conscious of how girls were limited in what they were encouraged to accomplish in the 50s.
Brown was smart, good at math and a skilled leader.
Both daughters call their mom an incredible role model. They admire how she was able to be her own person — independent — and a dedicated homemaker, wife of more than 50 years to John, and a caregiver to her aging parents and other elderly relatives throughout her life.
It was her pride in her family that made her “shine,” said Pimlott.
“She truly glowed when she talked about us all, and that is a very special thing to leave us with,” Pimlott said. “It is a gift to know you were really, truly cherished and loved unconditionally.”