Harley G. Brown II
He was known by several names. To the children he was “Santa”, to the fishermen he was “Papa Smurf, to the musicians he was “Mr. Bones” and to his children and the countless foster children he was “Dad”.
Harley was born on July 25, 1928, in Burlington, Vermont to Harley G. Brown Sr. and Dorothy Brown (Muir). Growing up in Burlington, his school years were short and he began working at an early age to help support his family. Harley soon joined the United States Navy Reserve and served under Robert T. Stafford. He then enlisted in the United States Army and was stationed in Germany just after the war during the Knollenberg Trials. He remained in Germany for years and although his Platoon was put on notice of their pending deployment to Korea, they were not sent.
Harley worked at EB and AC Whiting Company located on Pine Street in Burlington. He gave thirty five years to the company as an equipment maintenance person and secretary of the Union. In November of each year, he would open the Market Place of Burlington and the Village of Richmond as his alter ego “Santa Claus”. He loved to bring smiles to the faces of children. There are so many happy memories of thousands of children and then their children, as well as adults, who have sat on his lap. Harley was an active member of the Shriners. He loved fishing, playing music and his beloved Red Sox, especially when they won their first World Championship and he said “I can now pass in peace”.
Harley married the love of his life, Bertha Marie Pepin, in September, 1952 who predeceased him on February 28, 2008. Harley and Bertha had six children, Arminda Brown, Harley G. Brown III, Esq., Cynthia Brown, Donna Brown, Timothy Brown and Michael Paul Brown (predeceased him). After the passing of Bertha, Harley met the second love of his life, Paula (Polly) Goss, who took very good care of him until her passing in March of 2014.
Harley leaves behind his children, Arminda, Harley, Cynthia, Donna, Timothy, too many foster children to list, his last surviving sister Mary Shaw and her husband Norman Shaw, with whom he was very close to and shared countless hours of memories. He is survived by nine grandchildren, many great grandchildren who believed him to be the true Santa Claus and a wide and wonderful circle of grieving extended family and friends. His grandson Dennis Dawson predeceased him.
The pain of losing Harley is all-encompassing now, but he had ninety-two years of giving and receiving love. The love and compassion that he shared will be everlasting. His imprint on all who knew him runs deeper than our anguish. We will cherish his memories, his contagious smile and kindness.
There will be no calling hours at this time of social distancing. We will plan a celebration of Harley’s life around his birthday in July 2021, God willing. Our simple request of family and friends is to hug another loved one and tell them how much you care. Life is too short.
Arrangements are in care of Gifford Funeral Home, 22 Depot Street, Richmond, VT.
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