Volunteer week: Vi and Byron Brown have a 50-year history of helping out in Vail
Editor’s note: This is the second in a two-part series profiling local volunteers in honor of National Volunteer Week, which runs through today.
VAIL — As National Volunteer Week concludes, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention Vi Brown and the man she calls her favorite husband, Byron.
The Browns arrived in Vail in 1964 and went on to raise three children here. Getting basic services a family needs would require a great deal of volunteerism from them and many more as schools, libraries and churches were absent in town at the time.
“Everybody gives us a lot of credit, but everybody that came up here could see and know that certain things had to be done,” Byron Brown said. “We didn’t have a fire department, we didn’t have a town. We didn’t have a name on the town. We didn’t have a mayor.”
SERVING ALL ROLES
Byron Brown served as a volunteer firefighter, and Vi Brown helped to start up a school board. They established the Buddy Warner League ski program in the area, where Vi Brown was a coach while Byron Brown ran the program.
“I remember many a cold race day at Gold Peak, with Vi as the race announcer,” Kim Langmaid told crowds in Vail at a recent community meeting.
The couple held volunteer leadership roles with Ski & Snowboard Club Vail and helped bring both World Cup and World Championship ski racing to the area. Vi Brown is still an active volunteer at the World Cup races at Beaver Creek.
Vi Brown has served as a volunteer Sunday School teacher, a volunteer on the Eagle County School Board and volunteers as an election judge in the Vail’s municipal elections. She was among a group of women who helped start the Eagle Valley Community Fund and rummage sale, which has raised millions for local nonprofits in the Vail Valley. She and Byron Brown are still active in the rummage sale to this day.
The Browns were recently recognized in Vail for their pioneering spirit and designated with the town’s second annual Trailblazer award. In giving them the award, the Browns’ long history of volunteerism was detailed.
“Today, Vi and Byron’s presence can be found at numerous community events, including the ribbon cutting for the recent Vail Golf & Nordic Center Clubhouse, Vail’s 50th birthday celebration, the town’s annual community meetings and more,” read the proclamation. “Married for 55 years, they served as grand marshals of the Vail America Days parade in 2016 and are previous recipients of the Hornblower award, presented by the Vail Valley Foundation, as well as various Rotary Club awards. They are considered as family by many community members who have known them over the last five decades.”
These days, Vi Brown is most proud of her volunteer work with the Maloit Park Senior Wellness Center in Minturn, where she helps put on lunches for seniors twice per week. The program is part of Eagle County’s Healthy Aging program, which serves more than 10,000 meals to seniors and disabled adults each year. It provide rides to lunch, home-delivered meals for home-bound seniors and rides to the grocery store for others. The program depends on volunteers such as Vi Brown to continue to operate at the level it does.
While the food is usually pretty good, Vi Brown says getting everyone together twice per week at the Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy is the real focus of the group.
“The point is that we’re talking to each other,” she said.
Vi Brown says she plans on volunteering as long as she lives here, and she plans on living here as long as she’s alive.
“We plan never to leave,” she said. “Until we go to heaven, that is.”
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