Our Community - Jan Brown

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 16, No. 50            December 21, 2006

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Since arriving on the island, Jan has made it her home and has joined several organizations as a volunteer in order to better the life here.

T his year, young and young at heart had the pleasure of enjoying the first ever Christmas Lighted Boat Parade. It was a perfect night for such a kaleidoscope of beautiful colors parading over the moon lit waters of Belize. How did this idea come around? Who brought it to the island? This week, The San Pedro Sun is pleased to introduce the woman who chaired the first ever Christmas Lighted Boat Parade committee, Jan Brown.

    Born an only child on January 5th, 1943, Janet Brown enjoyed a lovely childhood in Joplin, Missouri with parents Maxine and Carl Brown. She attended Joplin Public Schools, graduating from High School in 1961. While in school, Jan took the business courses, “At that time women were expected to become secretaries and later become housewives. Only a few women went into the more diversified occupations like doctors, etc,” she commented.

    After graduation, Jan went to work at a small plumbing firm as a secretary and receptionist. She remained in that post for the next year and a half after which she held a position at her father’s place of employment. He worked in the maintenance department of North American Aviation, who manufactured engines for spacecrafts. North American Aviation later became Rockwell International. After paying a visit to Cocoa Beach, she returned to her job only to find that she had been replaced. However, while at Cocoa Beach, Jan had been offered a job, one that she decided to take. She packed up her belongings and at the age of 26, with $83 in her pockets, she arrived in Florida ready to start over. “I loved the sense of adventure and of independency. Plus it was my very first time living near the ocean on the beach, how could I not be pleased?” she stated. At Cocoa Beach, Jan accepted the offer by Florida’s branch of Rockwell International and worked for them as secretary for the Apollo Project Manager, where she remained for two years.

    While working at Rockwell, Jan met and fell in love with Craig Lawson, the two were wed and moved to Gulfport, Mississippi to start their life together. In August 17th, 1969, the couple survived one of the greatest hurricanes to strike the United States of America, Hurricane Camille. A category 5 hurricane, with winds up to 210 miles per hour, Jan recalls vividly the 21 foot wall of water that hit the business they chose to ride the storm out and washed everything away. “I literally lost everything. A friend from Clear Lake, Houston, picked us up and drove us to Texas and that is where we began anew.” Unfortunately, things between the couple did not pan out and the two divorced after being together for three and a half years.

    In Houston, Jan became a bartender honing her skills down at Nassau Bay Resort. “It was a new industry for me but I loved it immensely. I enjoyed the camaraderie, and the fast action this business brought,” she explained. After four years, Jan got out of the bartending business and went into the wholesale portion of the trade. She was a sales person for a liquor company and traveled around the Houston area ordering, delivering and distributing liquor items. She did this for the following five years. However, one year Jan took a trip back home to visit her family for the Thanksgiving holiday. During that four-day vacation, Jan reunited and fell in love with her childhood sweetheart, Denny White. The couple was married in April of 1979. However, because of personality and life differences the couple parted several years later.

    Jan packed her belongings and returned to Houston where she got into the screen printing industry. She opened a little stall at the local flea market where she would sell printed t-shirts and caps among other items. After four months, the business had doubled in size and Jan moved to a store front. Soon that was not enough and Jan’s T’s and Tops expanded to a 3,000 square foot space. For 11 years, Jan’s personal service made her the best in the business. “The business went from being a 24/7 venture to one that was 25/8. We became advertising specialists and we put business logos on everything,” she explained.

    Jan also became active in the local Chamber of Commerce as well as in the Seabrook Association where she served as President.

    After selling her business, Jan went into the vending machine industry installing her candy, soda and snack machines in the petrochemical companies. That job did not last for long when she was offered the position of manager of the Clear Lake Chamber of Commerce which she gladly accepted. In 1986, Jan met the man who would be her partner for the following 16 years, Dean Landon. The couple enjoyed traveling and that year, he brought Jan to San Pedro Town. They stayed at the Victoria House and enjoyed a full week of gorgeous days on the island. “The friendliness of the people is what attracted me to the island. I said I could retire here. During that first trip I met Chico who now works for me,” she commented. The couple continued to travel to the island for the next 16 years.

    Unfortunately in 2002, Dean had a fatal fishing accident. On her own once more, Jan made the decision to move to the island that she and Dean loved so much. On May 28th, 2004, Jan made the official move to the island after purchasing the Pier Lounge Bar. Since arriving on the island, Jan has made it her home and has joined several organizations as a volunteer in order to better the life here. An active director of the Ambergris Caye Chamber of Commerce, she has worked arduously to make a difference. She has been actively involved in the Costa Maya Committee, as well as being a Calendar Girl for the month of May. She also saw one of her dreams come to fruition with the first ever lighted Christmas boat parade which took place this year on the moonlit Caribbean waters.

    During her free time, Jan enjoys snorkeling and has found the thrill in riding the wave runners. She enjoys traveling around Belize and plans to visit other places in the country as well as Central America. “I love visiting my stepchildren as well, Anne and Tom, and my grandchildren, Matt, Mary and Michael.”

    With a passion for the beautiful island, its people and for integrating herself quite nicely, Jan Brown is certainly brightening up “Our Community.”

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