On Friday, February 21, 1941, in the middle of the Second World War, Frank Winston Churchill Browne, third child and second son, was born to Frank and Hazel Browne at Hargreaves Memorial Hospital in Mandeville, Manchester. He was later followed by sister, Alicia. In Royal Flat, Manchester, Winston enjoyed the wholesome upbringing typical of rural Jamaican life, in a family home surrounded by flowers, trees, and animals, where he had to do chores like milking cows before getting ready for school. Young Winston was agile in mind as well as body, so his active imagination soon led to trouble. Neither his disciplinarian father, with the ominous nickname, “Sheriff”, nor DeCarteret College, where he started school, were enough to contain him. Thus arrived the pivotal moment where the parental decision was made to send him to Munro College.
Winston made friends everywhere he went. Some of those lifelong friends included Munronians Tony and Horace Fisher, Peter Richards, and Neville Powell. One good friend who helped shape his Munro experience, was Hall of Fame inductee Steve “Staggy” Harle. While most knew Staggy as the fearsome Deputy Headmaster, Winston was a senior student when the young Staggy arrived, and they became friends and colleagues soon after Winston returned to Munro to teach after sixth form. In hindsight, we can see how the many traits they shared, such as being disciplinarians and sticklers for things like punctuality and good deportment, made them kindred spirits – no pun intended.
Those of us who met Winston in later life knew he was intrigued by current affairs, and would engage with a gardener as attentively as with a CEO, once he was learning something. He was an avid reader who voraciously consumed information and sustained it all with a sharp memory, so it’s no surprise to learn that he achieved the uncommon feat of getting a Grade 1 in the Senior Cambridge Exams in fifth form. Legend has it that older brother Mansfield was given the keys to the family car for the first time to send him a congratulatory telegram!
Winston was popular with his fellow students because he was always fair-minded and never a bully, unlike many of his peers. His quick wit and charm, in addition to his sound academic and disciplinary record, also made him a favourite with the staff room, and so it was to popular acclaim that he was appointed Head Boy in sixth form.
Winston played and did well in all sports at Munro, including gymnastics, which perhaps explains his dancing. Hockey, however, was where he excelled most, and eventually played for Jamaica. This reputation led to his appointment as coach of the Hampton hockey team when he returned to teach at Munro. This led to a famous encounter with the Hampton Headmistress, who mused that perhaps a female teacher should be a chaperone rather than leave the girls alone with a young male coach. Winston famously retorted that as he was being left alone with 22 girls with hockey sticks, perhaps he was more in need of protection!
Winston’s wit, of course, was not reserved only for older women like Miss Wesley Gammon. In the best tradition of Munro men, he had style AND swagger. He was the quintessential Munronian – a guy’s guy AND a ladies’ man. The kind of guy other guys wanted to hang out and have a drink with, but also the kind of guy women wanted to date and marry, if only they could command his full attention. Soon enough, though, someone did: Shirley. Shirley was not from Hampton, but from another famous boarding school, Westwood. She was the proverbial girl next door, who became friends with Winston’s mother while he was overseas studying at Harvard. They met on his return, and a cordial friendship soon became more. The first official date was a nature walk and riverside picnic, then there was exchange of poetry, and the rest is history. Winston knew how to be the “old school” perfect gentlemen, and this was one of the many ways that he was always a great example to the many younger old boys he mentored. Once, upon hearing a much younger colleague almost boasting about sending a girl flowers, a genuinely puzzled Winston was heard to enquire, “Den nuh standard ting dat?”
After his teaching stint at Munro, Winston studied at the University of the West Indies, then his professional life became an extension of the rounded variety and success he enjoyed in school. He sold pharmaceuticals for Levy Brothers, then did logistics as well as sales and marketing for Red Stripe producer Desnoes and Geddes. This was where one of his impressed bosses sent him to Harvard to complete a Diploma in Marketing. He also did a secondment to the now defunct Daily News newspaper. He briefly co-owned the US-based Tropics International, and since that job involved selling lumber into the Eastern Caribbean, he spent some time living in Barbados and Trinidad. He also enjoyed short stints with Island Bottlers and Burger King, and in two different periods worked with Appliance Traders Group subsidiary, Caribrake.
In his first stint at Caribrake, his Harvard-honed marketing skills propelled Caribrake from controlling just over 30 per cent of the market to controlling 75 per cent, causing his leading competitor to shut down! In the second Caribrake stint, he met young racer Peter Moodie, and Caribrake’s subsequent sponsorship of the talented Moodie – who became a close friend – helped to significantly boost the popularity of events at Dover Raceway and racing in Jamaica in general.
Like some of us, Winston never truly left Munro College, as despite his professional success he never neglected the school. When what preceded the current Dickenson building was destroyed by fire in the late 1960’s, it was Winston who quietly contributed most of the money raised to rebuild it – one thousand pounds. His selfless generosity extended beyond Munro, and despite his efforts to keep such deeds quiet, there are several stories of Winston helping family members, friends, acquaintances, and even strangers, in several ways, financially and otherwise. He also gave his time and expertise when Munro’s expanded day-boy population created the need for school buses, organizing the school’s first major bus system. He drove from Kingston to Munro each morning to supervise the operation until it was properly up and running.
Winston was for many years the rock upon which the Old Boys Association was built. He was a thorough and dependable Association Secretary and helped hold the association together through some of its most challenging times. He also served for several years as a member of the School Board and of the Munro and Dickenson Trust. Interestingly, when it came to public recognition for his deeds or achievements, Winston was modest to a fault, and steadfastly refused public recognition or being made Chairman or President of anything.
Munro on several occasions attempted to honour Winston, but he always refused. He was reluctant to accept our longstanding desire to induct him to the Hall of Fame, but Winston was as honest as he was modest, so at no time could he claim that he did not deserve it. He simply opted to defer to other nominees, and now we can defer no longer. Thanks to his discrete modesty, we may never know all the things for which Winston deserves to be honoured and recognized, but such a huge record is hard to hide, and so we know enough.
Today, for the above and other reasons, we proudly induct the late Frank Winston Churchill Browne into the Munro College Old Boys Association Hall of Fame.