Who starts out in life dreaming of becoming a funeral director? No one!
I am Bob, founder of Browne Brothers Funerals, and I started my professional life straight out of University as a taxi driver, which was good fun in those days – when the call of the radio was like gambling, and good Tullamarine jobs were like winning Tattslotto. It was a great life in Australia, working when you felt like it, drinking beer and chasing pretty girls. Heaven before you died!
Things have a habit of changing and all of a sudden, I was challenged by a girlfriend who happened to be a schoolteacher. She was having a hard time in the classroom and was constantly complaining about her students.
I thought, it must be easy – how can anyone be threatened by adolescent kids?
And, after completing my Diploma of Education, I soon found out!
I was posted to Monterey Technical School on The Pines Estate in Frankston, which was a real eye opener and a great learning experience. I spent 10 wonderful years there where the kids taught me a few things and Vice versa.
Commencing into the Funeral Industry
Then, one thing led to another until around 1990 l found myself in the funeral industry.
What a great move! Overnight I had become a social historian. You see, funeral directing is not about death it’s about life and storytelling.
I started with a big corporate funeral director, this is where I learned the ropes and became disenchanted with the high pricing and lack of empathy.
I became hellbent on doing it my way and shared my vision with my best mate – Paul Cawson. Paul had just sold his timber business and was looking for a new opportunity.
The Beginning of Browne Brothers Funerals
It came in the form of the ANZ bank in Warrigal Rd in Cheltenham, Melbourne. The bank was vacant and ideal for a funeral home.
Council permits were obtained, and we set out to renovate the old bank and build the Browne Brothers Funeral Home.
Just as we were renovating, St Vincent’s hospital was reworking its site. Their mortuary was up for auction along with their labs. Paul’s wife went along to bid and ended up with the mortuary for an all up cost of $15!
Although the renovations nearly killed me, it was well worth the hard work. And almost 30 years later, I am still enjoying the funeral industry and the service we provide to many families around Melbourne.