JA Snow Funeral Home


Donald Henry Brown

30 June, 194111 April, 2020

Donald Henry “BUSTER” Brown, CPO1 (Ret’d), MMM, CD2

It is with deep sadness, yet immense pride, that we, his family, announce the crossing of the bar of D.H. “Buster” Brown.

Born in London, England, in 1941, he immigrated to Canada with his mother in 1946, and grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He began his military career by joining the Royal Canadian Sea Cadets in Winnipeg in 1954, prior to his enlistment in the Royal Canadian Navy in 1958 as an engineering mechanic.

During his first four years as a sailor, he served at sea aboard the minesweeper HMCS Fortune, completed a four-month tour in the Far East aboard HMCS Crescent, and was later drafted to the destroyer HMCS Micmac based in Halifax.

By 1962, he had completed further trades training and volunteered to go on exchange and undergo training with the Royal Navy’s submarine service in the United Kingdom. In so doing he served in Her Majesty’s Submarines Grampus, Andrew, Anchorite, Alliance and Aeneas.

During that six year period, Buster served in home waters, the Mediterranean, and spent two further years in the Far East with the 7th Submarine Squadron based in Singapore. He was promoted to Leading Seaman and was awarded the Malay Peninsula clasp for service at sea during the Indonesian Confrontation.

In 1968 he returned to Halifax and served aboard the submarine HMCS Onondaga and later that year commissioned HMCS Okanagan in Chatham, England. His time aboard Okanagan was highlighted in by the RFA Grey Rover incident, when she was accidentally rammed by the British tanker in 1973. Buster remained on Okanagan through 1981, rising in rank to the position of Chief Engineer, and appointed Submarine Squadron Chief ERA.

Due to qualified personnel shortages, Buster was then drafted to the destroyer HMCS Skeena as Chief ERA and was to receive indoctrination training aboard HMCS Nipigon in the NATO Squadron in Europe. By 1984, Brown served on staff of the Commander Sea Training, Atlantic, as Chief ERA, charged with the task of training and working up ships’ crews in achieving operational status at sea.

In 1988, Buster was named Coxswain of the tanker HMCS Protecteur, and a year later returned to the submarine service as part of the inaugural Submarine Sea Training Group’s Chief ERA. During this time, with the deployment of three ships to the Gulf War operational theatre, he was recalled to assist in at-sea training preparations and sailed aboard HMCS Terra Nova.

Upon returning to Halifax, Buster was appointed to the Admiral’s staff as the Command Chief Petty Officer, Maritime Command, a post he held until retiring from Canada’s navy in 1995.

Following his retirement, he was engaged as a member of the Royal Canadian Legion Dominion Command’s Defence Committee, with which he remained active until well into his 70’s. Buster participated as Legion representative in both the Canadian Forces “Showtour 2000” in Bosnia, and the commemoration of the 65th Anniversary Korean War Armistice in South Korea in 2008.

Buster was lured into the Hollywood movie business in 2001, working as Submarine Technical Advisor on the feature-film production “K-19: The Widowmaker”, filmed primarily in Halifax and starring popular actors Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson, in 2001.

Buster was also chairman of the Submariners Association of Canada (East), a board member of the Royal Canadian Naval Association, and a long time member of the Atlantic Chiefs & Petty Officers Association in Halifax.

Concurrent to his illustrious military career, he remained active as a volunteer in his community, organizing a Mens’ Dart League at the Herring Cove & District Volunteer Fire Department, and acted as head coach for hockey teams in the Chebucto Minor Hockey Association in Spryfield throughout the 1980’s and early 1990’s. A talented handyman, a meticulous gardener and lifelong sports fan, he ardently supported the Montreal Expos and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Most importantly, he was a devoted and loving husband to his wife Gerri, proud father to sons Jeff Brown and Brent Rigby, themselves military members, and adoring grandfather of Colin Brown, Benjamin Rigby and Lucas Rigby.

He was predeceased by his parents Donald Ramsay Brown and Nora Katherine Hopgood.

He is survived by his stepbrother Dan Colleaux of Winnipeg, his wife Gerri (nee Keefe) of Halifax, his sons Jeff Brown (Anne) of Halifax and Brent Rigby (Nicole) of Greenwood, N.S., grandsons Colin Brown of Halifax and Benjamin & Lucas Rigby of Greenwood, aunt Mary Brown of London, England, cousins Patricia Brown of New York, N.Y. and Clive Brown of London, many loving and nieces and nephews and countless friends, shipmates and fellow submariners all over the world.

“It’s all about attitude and adaptation.”

We have the watch, Chief.


  • Funeral Service

    Thursday, 6 May , 2021


Donald Henry Brown

have a memory or condolence to add?

LCdr Glenn Chamberlain (Ret'd)

6 April 2021

Glad to have helped Chief Brown get his gig with the filming of K-19 The Widowmaker, but even more proud to have known this fine naval leader and devoted Canadian patriot. My heartfelt sympathies to his friends and family.

Colin Brown

17 September 2020

I miss you, Grampy.
But I'll continue to make you proud.

Robert Crepin

26 August 2020

I would like to extend my condolences to Buster Billy Goat`s family.

Donna Pettit

18 July 2020

Dear Gerri,
I am very saddened to hear of Buster’s passing.
Please accept my sincere condolences.
Thinking of you and your family at such a difficult time.

Donna Pettit

Cindi & Marty Townsend

22 April 2020

Gerri ,we were saddened to hear of Buster’s passing. His sense of humour & stories from the many Keefe gatherings are fondly remembered & usually his beloved Blue Bombers came up in the conversation!

Our sincere condolences to you, Jeff & the rest of the family.When this physical distancing is over we’ll be giving you a much deserved hug!

Cindi & Marty & family

Captain(N) Ret’d Mary-Ellen Clark

21 April 2020

I joined the Canadian Navy during the CREW (Combat Related Employment for Women) Trials in the late 1980s when I met then CPO1 “Buster” Brown. Buster was a convincing and compelling force in moving the Canadian Navy forward into the 20th century on many fronts including gender employment equality. He was an avid advocate for women serving at sea and anytime he met up with me, it was a salute to the commissioned rank I held then as a Sub-lieutenant, followed by a hearty handshake, and enthusiasm and mentorship through his encouraging words of support. I will never forget his positive influence over my 28-year career as a Naval Logistics Officer. His wisdom and professionalism directly supported my career that culminated in senior appointments as a Captain(N), of which I was one of four women across the entire Royal Canadian Navy who had risen to that rank by 2015. Chief, we have the watch; I thank you from the bottom of my heart; Rest In Peace, sailor. Fair winds and following seas,
Very Respectfully,
Mary-Ellen Clark
Captain(N) Ret’d, CD, MSc, CMA, CPA

John McAllan

21 April 2020

My condolences to the family of Buster. I remember him from the 1960s at the old RCNSA. I believe we also shared a ward in Stadacona Hospital during our spinal fusion misery, we shared some pain and some laughs. A much liked, respected and admired Sailor.

Brian Cambers

21 April 2020

Gerri I am sorry to hear of Buster’s passing. Many great memories of our M & B days. Be assured you are in our thoughts and prayers.

K5 Reid

21 April 2020

My deepest sympathy to your family.
My late husband Don Reid served with Buster and spoke highly of him. Many a war stories were told at our house which included Buster's name laughter from either Hazen Harris, Doug Morgan, Jim Luddington or Terry Meloche. was loud and sincere I'm quite sure Don and Buster are reminiscing right now.
Know that you are in my prayers
God Bless

John MacInnis

20 April 2020

PO 1 Jeff Brown
I was saddened to hear of your father's passing.
As you know I had the great fortune and pleasure of serving at Sea Training with the " dynamic duo" your dad and CPO 1 Jim Carroll. I learned so many lessons about leadership in the navy during that period.
Buster's "fireside" chats on our cots in three mess in TERRA NOVA were particularly memorable.
Our sincerest condolences to you and your family.

John and Clair MacInnis