Chester "Chet" Brown
1915 - 2014, Santa Barbara
Chester (Chet) Brown passed away March, 29th 2014 at the age of 98. He was born in Fort Dodge, Iowa in 1915 to Earl and Blanche Brown. The family made their way to Burbank, California in 1923, He had a auto mechanics garage in Burbank in 1940 called Chet's Automotive. He leased out his business to go into the Navy and served from 1942 to 1945 as a Motor Machinist Mate 1st Class where he did overhaul and maintenance on the ship's engines. He married Billie Archer when he got out of the Navy and started a family. They had 4 children, Mike, Kelly, Stacey and Perry. Below are just some of the highlights of his long and accomplished life. He built 7 boats and owned and worked on many more.
In 1951 he launched his life long boat building and fishing career with the "Bimiche". It was 35' long, built of steel, and used to start his first commercial sport fishing business. He built the boat with longitudinal framing and unique design features not seen at that time. He hauled passengers out of Long Beach and Wilmington. In 1954 he built the 40ft. "Reville" also using a new method of construction. He designed the hull to plane and it was one of the first boats to be built that size out of laminated plywood with longitudinal framing and fiberglass. Also a commercial sport fishing boat the new design and technique was stronger, lighter, faster and innovative for the time. He began a trend that other boat builders would soon follow.
By 1956 he had tired of hauling passengers and sold his boat. He rented space to start building a 40 ft. Angleman designed ketch the "Destiny". Again he used a new method in wood construction called the strip planked method. During this time he worked as a marine mechanic for Marine Engine Service. Chet and Billie had a dream of moving to Hawaii and 3 years after starting the "Destiny" they took their 2 older children, a navigator and crew man and sailed to the Hawaiian Islands. Upon reaching Hawaii he sent for his 2 youngest children to join them. Chet and his family lived on their boat in the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor in Honolulu. He sold the "Destiny" in 1960 and relocated his family to Santa Barbara.
He soon had a job working for Lindwall Boat Works and in 1962 started working part time on a 52 ft steel commercial fishing boat the "Dawn Star". It was reportedly the largest steel boat built in Santa Barbara up to that time. It launched in 1964 and he and his family became some of the first liveaboards in the Santa Barbara Harbor. It was also during this time that he started another business named "Service Afloat" that he operated off of the "Dawn Star" . He assisted other boat owners with general and mechanical repairs. In 1968 he took the "Dawn Star" along with his son out for her first albacore fishing season.
That same year the Atomic Energy Commission chartered the "Dawn Star" for research in the Johnston Atoll, 800 miles southwest of Hawaii. He took his family and sister and 12 days later delivered the boat to Hawaii where the charter began. The family vacationed in Hawaii until the boat returned from it's charter. In 1969 he took the "Dawn Star" to work in the Gulf of Alaska. The boat was under contract with General Oceanographics and he outfitted the boat to carry their 15 ft. mini submarine named the "Nekton". They were making a subsea survey of the gulf's geologic features for 4 different oil companies. He sold the "Dawn Star" to General Oceanographics by year's end.
Chet then started building another boat named the "Archer" in 1970 and launched it in 1973. It was 63 ft. long. It was laminated plywood and fiberglass and built at the bottom of Santa Barbara St. He fished albacore with it until 1975 when he decided to sell it.
Chet's son Mike had already begun building his own steel commercial fishing boats when Chet went to work for him. He would help Mike finish his boat the 65 ft. "Wendy". He fished with Mike on his boat until 1978. He also helped Mike build his next boat the "Mikette" in Oxnard from 1978-1980 and another boat the 124 ft. "Kami M." in Anacortes, Wa. from 1989-1991. Chet spent his later years between Washington State with his son and daughter in law and in Santa Barbara where he could be closer to his daughters.
Chet pursued his passion throughout his life and will always be remembered for his humorous nature, honesty, integrity, ability to teach and mentor and his ability to start a job and stay with it until completion. He will be greatly missed. For pictures and additional information please visit WWW.McDermottcrockett.com.
He is survived by his sister June Francis, his 4 children, Michael Brown (Paulette), Kelly Rangel, Stacey Brown and Perry Adameck (David). His 7 grandchildren, Tracey Cruz (Alex), Billy Rangel (Brandy Sanchez), Wendy Brown, Kami Jennings, Aprile Hill (Bill) and Matthew and Shelby Adameck. His 5 great grandchildren, Marina Jennings, Jordan Hill, Akeila Garcia-Hill, Bella and Lucas Cruz. A Veteran's Service was held at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Hollywood Hills, April 5th, followed by a Celebration of Life at Craig Brooker's home in Santa Barbara.