David and Jeannette Brown, who will celebrate 60 years of marriage next month, will be honoured with a special blessing at the Celebration of Marriage Mass Feb. 10. Photo by Mickey Conlon

The Browns hit all the right notes at 60 years of marriage

By 
  • February 7, 2019

For 60 years, David and Jeannette Brown have made beautiful music together.

Jeannette, a longtime music teacher who only in recent years retired, has provided the soundtrack to their lives and passed along the music gene to their four children. David has been her biggest fan over the six decades the couple has shared.

The Browns — who will celebrate their 60th anniversary next month — will be joined Feb. 10 by dozens of married couples who will have an opportunity to renew their vows at the Archdiocese of Toronto’s annual Celebration of Marriage Mass. Held this year at St. Clare of Assisi Church in Woodbridge, Ont., the Mass will be celebrated by Cardinal Thomas Collins to coincide with World Marriage Sunday. Couples marking 25, 40, 50 and 60+ years of marriage in 2019 will receive a special blessing from the cardinal.

In the Brown household, the importance of music is evident by the grand piano that is the focal point of the living room in their Toronto home. Not only did music in a roundabout way bring them together, it has helped keep them together. Jeannette has always been deeply involved in music and has taught piano since starting in Grade 10 at the convent school in Haileybury, not far from their hometown of Kirkland Lake in northern Ontario. Music led her to Toronto and the Royal Conservatory of Music where she trained to become a piano teacher.

Teaching was also in the blood of David. He got the bug while studying for his master’s at the University of Ottawa and it accompanied him to teachers college in Toronto.

Funny thing though for these northerners. Despite being the same age, now 85, they had only a passing acquaintance growing up in the mining town. While Jeannette was at school in Haileybury, David attended Scollard Hall in North Bay. It would take Toronto to lead them into each other’s arms.

Jeannette is still amazed they have been together as long as they have.

“I keep asking myself, ‘Really? Sixty years?’ ” she says with a chuckle, before launching in to the secret of their success.

“We love each other. That’s it, we love each other.”

The greatest memories, though, come from raising their four kids, Chuck, Jennifer, Steven and Jonathon, and from their nine grandchildren.

“They’re all talented in music. It’s her fault, not mine. I listen a lot,” said David, who recalls some “wonderful Christmas concerts” as an audience of one.

The family remains tight knit, despite son Steven living in England with wife and kids and working in music ministry at Westminster Abbey. In retirement, the Browns have been living in Chuck’s house rather than a condo or apartment, and family takes the long-time parishioners at Our Lady of Sorrows Parish to Sunday Mass.

Beyond a love of family, David thinks he knows why their marriage has lasted so long.

“I think it’s the art of compromise,” he said.

Compromise was put to the test at times in the Brown home. Both had separate interests, particularly in their sporting choices. Jeannette enjoyed tennis while David was an avid golfer.

“When we got married, that would be a point of contention,” said David. “She would go off with her girlfriends and I’d go off with my friends and do our thing.”

Before long though, Jeannette began taking golf lessons, saying, “You’re not going to leave me at home forever,” said David. Likewise, he took up tennis and together they enjoyed each other’s company. It’s been about five years since they gave up these pursuits, but they still relish the memories.

“We had some really good times, real good times. She got to the point where she was damn near beating me (in golf),” said David, launching into the time when, with an audience of the foursome ahead of them, Jeannette drove the green on a par 3 while David slashed one far from the hole. Jeannette calmly walked up and drained her birdie putt to a round of applause from the admiring crowd.

“When we got to the green, the guys were clapping. I said to them, ‘She does this all the time to me,’ ” he said as they shared a laugh.

The Browns are happy they’ve been able to share so long together, and credit each other with keeping them young at heart.

“We’ve had some good years together, really good years — and we’re continuing to,” said David. “That’s great when you’ve got that type of relationship that really makes life so much more meaningful.”

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