March 3, 2023

Remembering Dr. Donovan Brown

Dan Clark was still several years away from joining the Saskatchewan Roughriders when he met one of the CFL team’s long-time physicians, Dr. Donovan Brown.  

“In Grade 12, I tore my MCL and my meniscus and he was there, hand in hand, to make sure that I was getting cared of,” the veteran Roughriders offensive lineman recalled, flashing back to an injury-shortened senior year with the Thom Trojans high school football team.  

“I remember him calming me. When I tore my knee, he came down to the field from the stands and said, ‘You’re going to be OK. We’ll get everything hooked up. We’ll get your knee stabilized.’ It was more that calming presence before my parents came down.  

“You think of what he did on a daily basis and what he did for the Riders, but then for him to help a high school kid going through the same situation, having a heart goes a long way.”  

Those comments were made with a heavy heart, because Dr. Brown passed away on Feb. 23, in the company of his loved ones. He was 90.  

In addition to being a team physician from 1982 to 2007, he had held Roughriders season tickets since 1970 — six years after moving to Regina.   

He was also a shareholder, not to mention the proud owner of two Grey Cup rings (from 1989 and 2007).  

Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland in 1932, he received a medical degree from Queen’s University of Belfast in 1956. 

After a relocation to Kenya, Regina was the next — and permanent — stop for the Brown family.  

In 1965, Dr. Brown and Dr. Tom Lee opened the Avon Medical Centre and began more than a half-century’s association with that clinic.  

The lengthy career and long hours were reflective of Dr. Brown’s devotion to his patients, many of whom were athletes at the professional and amateur levels.  

Over 25-plus years of volunteering as the Trojans’ team physician, he attended every Thom game.   

“He was always very cordial and always very nice,” Clark said. “He was always making sure that I understood what was wrong with me and making sure to get me back on track so that I could get back on the football field.  

“He was great to be able to take care of me mentally as well.”  

That was Dr. Brown’s approach, in his understated and caring fashion.  

“The biggest compliment is that he was respected by the players,” said Alan Ford, who was the Roughriders’ general manager from 1989 to 1999.  

“You can tell pretty quickly which doctor the players want to see and which one they don’t want to see. I don’t recall anybody who didn’t want to go to Dr. Brown.”  

Nor was there a time when he didn’t want to go to where the players were.  

“The team doctors put in a lot of extra time,” Ford noted. “Sometimes people think of the team doctor as someone who shows up after practice and talks to the trainer, but there’s so much more that goes into it.  

“When you have to take two days out of your medical practice to go on the road with the team, that’s a difficult sacrifice that he was making and one that was much appreciated.”  

So were his tireless, selfless contributions to the community as a whole.  

Dr. Brown, an avid runner, helped to organize various racing events. He was also involved with the Canada Summer Games when that national multi-sport event was held in Regina in 2005.  

Although free time was scarce, he was also associated with B’nai Brith and Ducks Unlimited — his pursuits being seemingly unlimited.  

Outdoors, he could often be found flying a private airplane, hunting, fishing or skiing. His passions extended to music, art, fine food and travel. 

Dr. Brown is survived by his wife of 40 years (Lee Ann), two children (John Conor Brown and Nicola Siobhan Brown), and five grandchildren (John, Shelby, Madison, Spencer and Shayleen).  

In deference to the wishes of Dr. Brown, a service will not be held. An Irish wake will be scheduled for a later date.  

Messages of condolence may be sent via Almassy Metz Funeral & Cremation Services (www.AlmassyMetzfuneral.com).  

“He was just a great human,” Clark concluded, “and a great doctor.”