Burnaby Village Museum loses two stalwart volunteers

Cice and Dennis Brown - NEWSLEADER FILE
Cice and Dennis Brown
— image credit: NEWSLEADER FILE

Burnaby Village Museum lost two longtime volunteers in the span of two days last week with the passings of Cice Brown and Rheta Skea.

Cice Brown, who died Jan. 24 at age 86, was heavily involved with her husband of 64 years, Dennis, in the restoration of both the museum's carousel and the Interurban tram car.

Over the years her many roles included serving as docent where she loved to interact with schoolchildren, as honourary reeve of the village in 2002, and as volunteer coordinator for the Interurban project.

The museum's conservator, Elisabeth Czerwinski, recalled in working with Brown that she was always positive and upbeat.

"She stayed 18 to me, she never really got older.

"She just charmed everyone and kept everyone happy," she said. "She was like a substitute grandmother or even mother, depending on what age they knew her."

Czerwinski noted that even though her eyesight was failing due to macular degeneration it didn't stop her from helping with the tram restoration.

"We would come up with ways so she could still work ... She would just never stop," she recalled. "'Normally it takes maybe 10 brush strokes to varnish this piece, you just do 20 and you're bound to cover it.' And she did and I'd check her work, give her the thumbs up and we'd go onto the next thing."

Rheta Skea, who died Jan. 23 at age 89, was a volunteer at the museum for more than three decades, receiving her 30-year pin in 2008.

Much of her volunteer service was as part of a sewing circle whose members produced costumes for the museum's interpreters and docents.

"She was an expert sewer and a wonderful knitter," Czerwinski recalled.

The museum's Nancy Stagg noted that Skea was also a very active member of the Cameron Seniors Society and helped start the carpet bowling program at Cameron Recreation Centre.

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