The Brahans were high school sweethearts whose love endured a lifetime. They are gone now but their legacy lives on thanks to a generous gift in their Will to Victoria Hospice.
The Brahans’ foresight, along with the vision of 150+ legacy donors that we know of, enables us to deliver compassionate care to patients and families facing life-limiting illness and bereavement.
We honour Laurie and Dorothy and hope you enjoy reading about their lives, their commitment to one another, and the inspiring gift they left behind.
Lawrence (Laurie) Brahan and his wife Dorothy were born on the prairies in 1929 and 1928 respectively. Each made their way to Vancouver with their families, where they met at King George High School – high school sweethearts whose love lasted through the generations.
In Grade 11, Laurie left high school to enlist in the Royal Canadian Navy as an Ordinary Seaman. He served until 1954, including one tour of duty in the Korean War – shipping out only 25 days after his wedding. During Laurie’s time of service, Dorothy lived in British Columbia and Nova Scotia, working as a telephone operator and secretary.
Laurie’s naval career was cut short due to health issues. After his Honourable discharge as a Petty Officer, he returned to BC and quickly set about completing his high school diploma in order to seek higher education. Dorothy worked in an office to make ends meet, giving Laurie the opportunity to pursue a new career. He enrolled at UBC and completed two years in the Faculty of Arts.
Subsequently, on the advice of a guidance counsellor, Laurie decided to study Law. It was the right choice: Laurie graduated in 1959 and was awarded the prestigious Gold Medal as the top of his class. Post-graduate study took Laurie to Harvard, with Dorothy by his side, as always.
After practicing Law for 11 years in Vancouver and Terrace, Laurie was appointed to the Bench in 1970. Only two years later, he was appointed Chief Judge of British Columbia, a position he held until 1978. Laurie inherited a ‘patchwork’ judiciary system that had employed lay Magistrates and Justices of the Peace in small communities all over the province. He became significantly concerned about what he perceived to be grave injustices handed down by people with insufficient training in the Law.
Laurie became a relentless advocate for change with one simple objective: to get a legally trained Judge on every Bench in the province of British Columbia. Judge Brahan is widely considered to be the ‘architect’ of the provincial judicial system as we know it today.
Laurie was known as clever and witty with a sharp sense of humour and empathy for others. In the words of a Bar Association colleague, "Laurie was able to put himself, metaphorically, in the shoes of those who appeared in front of him. This is the highest quality that is required of a Judge, someone…who can temper his justice with mercy." He would often advise opposing lawyers and offer guidance in the courtroom, particularly to those in their early careers.
Laurie credited his success to his wife, Dorothy, and her steadfast love and support. They were inseparable and had lunch together at home most of his working days. Laurie passed away in 1998.
Dorothy needed a new focus after Laurie died, and found delight in volunteering at Village Crafts on Oak Bay Avenue where she made many wonderful friends. She learned to play bridge at the Monterey Recreation Centre and played up to four times a week until she became ill and died in 2016.
After her passing, it was discovered that Dorothy kept meticulous handwritten records of every penny they, and she, spent. She even had an inventory of every piece of furniture they ever purchased in their lives.
Her diligence in managing the family’s affairs has enabled something quite extraordinary. Unbeknownst to even their closest friends, the Brahans had quietly made plans to leave a legacy gift to four worthy charities in Victoria, one of which was Victoria Hospice.
Having made annual donations to Hospice from 1991 until 2015, the Brahans’ legacy gift is an extension of the compassion they demonstrated during their lives.
Their extraordinary gift will help thousands of families as they face their journey through end of life and bereavement.
For further information about legacy giving, call Gina at 250-519-1743 or visit www.victoriahospice.org/how-you-can-help/give-gift-future.