Ernie Braby – 1921 to January 18, 2008

Ernie was born in 1921 in Sunderland, a city located in the North East of England. He took his early education there and was apprenticing with his father to become a dentist, before his father’s untimely death at a young age. This terminated Ernie’s apprenticeship and necessitated him going to work to help support the family. Britain was soon at war and all young men were conscripted so Ernie joined the Royal Air Force, where he served for five years seeing action in Egypt and the Middle East.

After the war, Ernie emigrated to Canada, first joining a brother in Vancouver and then coming to Salmon Arm to work as a mechanic in a local garage. For the next few years, he worked in several different garages, first as a mechanic and then as a salesman.

In 1952, he married a local girl, Kay Loring, and shortly after the couple moved to Vernon where their first two children were born. Ernie remained with the automobile business and in 1954 was transferred back to Salmon Arm. A second son was born in 1957.

In 1960, Ernie opened his own business and took over the newly built Chevron station, located on the Trans Canada, where it remains today as the Whitespot Chevron Station. In addition to operating the service station, he soon acquired a car agency and sold cars as well as served gas. In 1964, he bought a failing American Motors dealership located west of town, where the present Braby Motors dealership operates. Ernie carried out a successful business there selling first American Motors cars and then Chrysler Dodge Jeep products until his retirement in 1982 when his two sons took over the operation.

Throughout his lifetime, Ernie’s main focus was his family and he was a devoted husband, father and grandfather. During most of his working years in Canada, Ernie worked very long hours and had little time for community activities, although he always remained a part of the United Church and held several volunteer positions there. He also was a Rotarian for a short time, a member and The Commodore of the Shuswap Power Squadron (he loved boats and boating) and for one year headed the local Cancer Campaign. He had a strong sympathy for the “working man,” was a true socialist and remained a card-carrying NDP member to his death.

After several years of declining health with Alzheimer’s disease, Ernie died on January 18, 2008.

Kay Braby, Shuswap Community Champion

Good things come in small packages, an adage exemplified by Kay Braby. Approximately five feet tall, Kay has been, and still is, a dynamo of energy within the Salmon Arm volunteer community.

The second oldest of six children in the Loring family, which settled in Salmon Arm in 1936, Kay attended UBC, graduating in 1952 with a BA & a BSW (Bachelor of Social Work) – a clear indication of the caring compassionate temperament that would endear her to a whole community of people, as well as her family.

While at university, she met Ernie Braby, a new immigrant from Britain who lived in Salmon Arm. They married soon after Kay’s graduation, and moved to Vernon, where Kay began her social work career. Their first son, Derrick, was born in 1953. A daughter, Catherine, followed in 1954 and in 1957 a second son, Michael, completed their family. By this time, Ernie’s employment had brought them back to Salmon Arm. Over the next few years, Kay worked as a social worker as family duties and Ernie’s business allowed.

After the children were grown and Ernie had retired, Kay became an active volunteer, and turned her attention to where she, along with several others, perceived gaps to be in the services available in her community. In the mid-80s, she spearheaded the formation of the Homemakers Association, which did all the hiring, scheduling, and supervising of Home Care workers. In 2001, she was the driving force within NeighbourLink Salmon Arm which spearheaded the re-establishment of the Second Harvest Food Bank, and in 2005 she initiated an offshoot program, Dinner Tonight, which involved the purchasing and preparation of nutritious, ready to eat meals, sold at cost.

When it became obvious Salmon Arm needed a place for the homeless to sleep during the winter, Kay was one of the organizers, under the auspices of the United Church, of the local In from the Cold program. She’s been a member of Shuswap Settlement Services since 2008, helping immigrants settle into the community, and promoting diversity.  In 2005, Kay fulfilled a life-long dream, spending a year in Ghana, West Africa volunteering in a Health Clinic and an Orphanage. Since that time she has worked tirelessly on various projects for Ghana, supported by the United Church, supplying food, clothes, education for girl children, and ‘receiving’ blankets for newborn babies.

Last year she led a group that purchased a 40ft, Big Steel Box, filled it with medical equipment and supplies then shipped it to Ghana.

In the last few years, Kay’s attention has turned to our First Nation’ neighbours, and she has worked cooperatively on two projects with them. She sits on the board of the Switzmalph Cultural Society as well as the board of School District #83’s Aboriginal Cultural Committee.

She is still a regular volunteer at The Churches of Salmon Arm Thrift Shop.

Today, Kay may be less active than when she was younger, but she rarely says “no” when asked to help out. She says “we here in the Shuswap are so blessed with so many good things, I feel compelled to share with the less fortunate.” 

She’s still one of the “go to” people younger people turn to when they need advice on how to proceed with a charitable project. The Shuswap is fortunate indeed to have Kay Braby as a role model for future community champions.