Tribute to My  Uncle Thomas  Augustus “Chippie” Browne
FROM LEFT: Theodore Browne Snr., Luke Browne and Thomas A‘Chippy’ Browne
Tribute
October 14, 2022
Tribute to My Uncle Thomas Augustus “Chippie” Browne

by Theodore Browne

I pray that you will permit me some space in your newspaper for the publication of a short tribute from me to my Uncle Thomas Augustus Browne who was famously known as Chippie Browne.

This giant of a gentleman roamed the landscape of the earth with St. Vincent and the Grenadines as his native stumping ground. The citizens of this country were blessed to have him among our ranks for 94 years until God recently called him home on September 27, 2022. In fact, I believe that it was his presence here that allowed us to lay true and enduring claim to the title “Hairouna – land of the blessed.”

Uncle Chippie will be laid to rest today at the St John’s Roman Catholic Church in Mesopotamia and interred at the Dumbarton Cemetery. He came from the dust of the Valley and would return to the dust of the Valley.

Uncle Chippie was the last surviving sibling of my late father Cyril Theodore Browne. If truth be told, it must be said that Uncle Chippie survived my father by a long way. Daddy died when I was 10 years old in 1952. Fortunately, I had Uncle Chippie as a father figure in my life for a very long time after that infamous day in history when my father was snatched away from me.

Indeed, Uncle Chippie was supposed to accompany me to Dominica for my wedding in 1976. Unfortunately, he could not make it in the end because he experienced a tragedy here at home in that he suffered the loss of Overseer Jackson from his estate. Nonetheless, he made his contribution by paying my passage to Dominica and covered all other related expenses. This was only one of the many acts of kindness and generosity that my dearly departed Uncle showered on me.

The truth is that my Uncle was kind and generous to everyone – to all and sundry. I think it is fair to say that he literally gave until hurt.

In order for me to give you a full appreciation = the role that Uncle Chippie played in my life, it is necessary for me to revisit my school days. He very often gave me rides in his jeep to school in Kingstown from Belmont when he saw me walking on the road. I could not afford to take the bus. He gave me a sense of comfort and belonging.

Moreover, after I had completed school and spent some time as a teacher at the Emmanuel High School in Mesopotamia, he orchestrated the circumstances to allow me to take up employment at the Government Statistical Office which was under his supervision.

I must tell you that my Uncle was bright! Actually, he was BRILLIANT. I suppose that “B” is for “Browne” and “B” is also for “Brilliant.” Uncle Chippie had blazed a trail of academic excellence at the St. Vincent Grammar School in the early days of its existence. He had a superlative record of distinction at that institution. He was a pioneer in scholarship and his contemporaries were the likes of Dr. Cecil Cyrus and Shake Keane.

I also remember that Uncle Chippie placed 1st in a regional course for Civil Servants that was organised by the Inland Revenue Department of the Federal Government of the West Indies which existed in the period 1958-1962.

I think that Uncle Chippie’s principal reason for organising a job for me at his department was to expose me to scholarship opportunities. As fate would have it, I was duly eventually able to obtain a scholarship to study law at the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies. I think that a line from President Barak Obama’s first State of the Union Address is upheld by the story of my life – a world class education is the best form of a poverty reduction programme.

It is not just that Uncle Chippie was there for me throughout the course of my life and that he exposed me to scholarship opportunities. He went far beyond that. By the time I was heading off to University in 1970, he had already been the guarantor for so many persons at University that he was restricted from being the guarantor for other students. However, he circumvented these constraints for me by asking his wife my Aunty Velma to be my surety. He was determined not to leave me stranded. This is the calibre of the man that we are laying to rest today. I repeat – he gave until it hurt.

Uncle Chippie taught me how to drive a motorcar and he also put me on the road to success in life. I feel indebted to him. I was loyal to him. I loved him. I sought to serve him faithfully through thick and thin. He was a man that knew the mountains and valleys of life and showed great contentment whatever the state of affairs. He had a certain serenity.

I remember the happy times and also some of the ordeals of his life. Suffice it to say here I am sorry he did not have the opportunity to live out the final years of his life in his own home.

We know that Uncle Chippie was a big businessman. We who were alive no doubt remember the Shopping Centre in Freeland and the enterprises he operated in Kingstown in conjunction with his wife. I heard there was a saying that Uncle Chippie had a free-hand in Freeland. I know so many persons who got their first job from my Uncle.

Uncle Chippie was also a powerful political force in his hey day and a strong supporter of the Labour Party. He literally never missed a political beat and was present at ULP Conventions basically up to the end of his life. I was so happy that Chippie Browne was one of the persons who cut the ribbon at the re-opening of the Levi Latham Health Centre when my son Luke Browne was the Minister of Health, Wellness and the Environment.

I am not here to paint the picture that my Uncle was a Saint. What I would say is that he was a very good man who made an impact on my life as well as the lives of countless other Vincentians. This country is better off because he lived.

I am delighted to know that he had a relationship with his Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. May he rest in peace. The candle of the good deeds he did here on earth will burn like an eternal flame.