- Raymond Brown
Artist Ray Brown passed away peacefully March 13 at his Montpelier home, with his wife, Jody, and dog Max at his side, after suffering from respiratory and coronary illness.
He was born Raymond Lewis Brown on April 14, 1940, to George V. Brown Jr. and Ellen Frances (Crowe) of Brookline, Mass. His grandfather George was instrumental to the birth of the Boston Marathon, Boston Garden and the Boston Bruins hockey franchise. His uncle Walter founded the Boston Celtics.
In school, Ray was more interested in sports (especially hockey) and art than in academics. He attended Massachusetts College of Art, graduating with a BFA. It was there that he met Linda Hardy. They married shortly after graduation and had a son, Dylan, and daughter, Emlyn Kate. Ray taught art and coached sports at high schools in Massachusetts for 18 years. Following the tragic deaths of his wife and daughter in 1970, Ray and Dylan spent a year in Michigan, where he attended the Cranbrook Academy of Fine Art. There he married his second wife, Wendy (Hughes). They resettled in Brookline but later divorced.
Soon after, Ray rented out a few rooms in his home to Mass Art students, including Jody Wilson, who would become the love of his life. Ray and Jody purchased land in Woodbury, Vt., in the late 1970s and, in 1981, decided to move to Vermont. They became owners of the Drawing Board, a frame shop and art supply store on Montpelier’s Main Street in 1983. On August 25, 1984, they married and celebrated with friends and family on their land in Woodbury. Soon after, they moved to East Montpelier and then to their current home in Montpelier in 2013.
Ray was a prolific painter and a natural merchant, really enjoying customer service and purchasing roles at the shop while Jody ran the picture framing and the business side. In 2006, Ray suffered a serious stroke that immobilized his right side. He reluctantly had to stop working, but he continued to paint, switching to his left hand. Where he had been painting the Vermont landscape and drawing on-site, after the stroke he painted in his studio from his memories, and the work became more abstract. During his last two years, he returned to his old sketchbooks for inspiration to paint landscapes and birds. He used flowers and vessels in his studio to draw and paint from life.
Ray Brown’s life has been marked by an inspiring resiliency. He processed life through his art. He was predeceased by his brothers Walter and George Brown. He lost his son, Dylan, to cancer in December 2018. He is survived by his partner and wife, Jody (Wilson); grandson Ryan Brown of Brookline, Mass.; sister-in-law Candace Brown; brother-in-law Gregg Kurek; and many nieces and nephews.
Ray’s solo exhibition “Tumbling Toward the End” is on view at the Front gallery on Barre Street in Montpelier through March; other works are also being shown at the Drawing Board. A celebration of life gathering will be planned for later, possibly this September. Donations in Ray’s memory can be made to Central Vermont Home Health & Hospice (cvhhh.org) or the FEAST meals program (montpelier-vt.org) through the Montpelier Senior Center.