ON first-name terms with bishops and archbishops, Michael Brown, who has died at 74, was religious affairs correspondent and a general reporter on The Yorkshire Post from 1979 until taking early retirement in 2006. The dementia he developed rapidly deteriorated and he had just been transferred to Wheatfields Hospice, Leeds, when he died.
Michael was a consummate journalist winning awards as a features writer, and his insistence on remaining in the news room as a general news reporter rather than being designated as a features writer – despite the recognition he received as such - was one of his many distinguishing quirks.
Comfortable in a pub, provided it was one without a juke box, Michael was someone for whom the 1930s were a bit too modern; he affected a mocking disdain for “new fangled” contrivances such as the telephone and motor car – he was a non-driver – and observing the garish displays in Times Square, New York, a few years ago he remarked dryly: “Oh, it’s becoming very commercialised.”
When entertaining, the fare he offered was likely to be that of a country squire circa 1920. He was defiantly impractical except in the kitchen when preparing meal-time specialties, and at the piano when he delighted in accompanying a sing-along,
A high church Anglican opposed to the ordination of women. Michael was an active worshiper, most recently being a server at St Wilfrid’s in Harehills, Leeds. In his teens he had been a server at St Mary’s, Beeston, where had also been a choirboy.
His faith was of paramount importance to him, and helped sustain him after the blow he suffered when his adored wife Jennifer died in 2011.
Son of Harold, general manager at Hudswell Clarke and Co, locomotive manufacturers of Hunslet, and his wife Catherine (nee Ruston) an Associate of the London College of Music who taught the piano, Michael David Brown was born in Leeds, the family, which would later include his sister Mary, living successively in Hunslet and Beeston. After primary school, he went to the fee-paying Michael’s Lodge school in Headingley, completing his education at Park Side School, Beeston.
At 16, he joined the Morley Observer as a cub reporter and then worked at the Dewsbury Reporter where he met Jennifer Rothery whom he married in 1965 at St Wilfrid’s Church, Calverley.
Moving to Buxton to work on the Buxton Advertiser, he returned to West Yorkshire in 1970 when he got a job in the Huddersfield office of The Yorkshire Post, moving to Chapel Allerton ,Leeds, in 1979 having been transferred the previous year to the paper’s head office in Wellington Street.
Companionable, steadfast in his faith and his friendships, mischievous – his teases are legendary – and equipped with an extensive repertoire of anecdotes, Michael was a distinctive, robust and sometimes irascible character who brought a sharp intelligence to the slightly oblique way he viewed the world.
He is survived by his daughters Heather, Andrea and Frances and eight grandchildren.