Treasured friend and family man remembered

05:20, Aug 22 2014
Michael Francis Brown
Brownie, Michael Francis Brown.

Southland produced a clever capable veterinary surgeon in Michael Brown, always known as Brownie - and lost a lovable colourful character in his passing, after illnesses battled bravely, at the age of 67.

Good with large and small animals, his particular forte was in the equine field. He had a wonderful way with horses, a skill set that let him use art as much as science to diagnose disorder on approach.

And he had a host of stories about this, rarely let anything get in the way of telling them.

Michael Francis Brown
Michael Francis Brown

Like the yarn about "the hoity toity, high-born, high-brow lady from the north with her expensive high powered race horse. She would not believe what I had to tell her and argued loudly about it. So I said what celebrated syllable of that famous word do you not get? I had to tell her the horse was munted."

After school with the Marist Brothers in Invercargill, Brownie had gone to Massey University graduating as a vet and starting work in Hunterville in early 1970.

There he met he met his Jenny, marrying in June 1971 and moving to Balclutha to the Vet Club.


Five years on he moved "back home", to the south which always was home, joining John Allen and Peter Williams at Waikiwi.

He worked until 1984 when he became ill with what was eventually diagnosed as chronic Brucellosis. He then left the practice for the meat division of the then Ministry of Agriculture.

In 1992 he began practice again, working from his house and "the boot of the car" until 1997 when he enticed Brendon Bell to join him in building a clinic on the boundary of the Invercargill racecourse - the Southern Veterinary Centre.

Brownie retired at the age of 60, in 2007.

But such was his popularity with racing clients that he continued to respond to the odd call, feeling that not to do so would be a waste of his undoubted talent and years of experience.

He was an excellent practitioner, his skill sets such that he was known throughout Australasia.

He was offered positions in Melbourne and Hong Kong but the pull of his beloved south and its people was such that he never accepted those extremely good offers.

In the equine industry his diagnostic skills were legendary, earning the respect of New Zealand's top horse people, his services always in demand at horse sales. He tried his hand at racehorse ownership, usually in partnership, but did not like paying "those exorbitant vet charges" incurred if the animal was trained outside of his immediate range.

But he loved all sports, playing cricket for Marist as a schoolboy, rugby for Massey A, Manawatu and South Otago.

He was a regular attender on the opening day of duck shooting and was to become an armchair expert on boxing, rugby and racing.

At his passing he leaves his wife Jenny, their children - Phillip and Nicola - his beloved grandsons Finlay and Harry.

A Southlander through and through, his passing also leaves a host of friends from the deep south to the far north, colleagues and clients who valued his knowledge and skill, many mates, among them Andrew Macfie and Keith Neylon who treasured his humour, that glorious repartee imparted while he, the gourmet cook, knocked up paua patties and corn fritters at the back of the mai mai on duck shooting day.

They swore he'd kissed the Blarney stone. Maybe something similar out the back of Rotorua he'd quip.

The Southland Times