|17 Aug 2020
|Passing of friends
Brynn James Alric Simpson passed away unexpectedly on 5 May 2020 at Auldearn, the family farm in Elgin. His loss is indescribable, unreal, something that seems impossible to accept. Some years ago, Brynn wrote in his journal that,
At the end of our lives, few of us regret not having made more money. What we truly regret are the places we didn’t visit, the friendships we didn’t nurture, the risks we didn’t take, and the things we didn’t do with the people we love.
Brynn lived by these values and will be remembered, above all, as a great nurturer of life, one who cared for and protected living things as they grew. These living things were sometimes animals, plants, trees, and fruit, but most of all, they were people – they were family, friends, communities, and enterprises.
At a young age, Brynn became fascinated by things that live in water. The family home in Hout Bay and later Elgin boasted impressive, well-vegetated, self-sustaining koi ponds of Brynn’s making, and his childhood bedroom was adorned with aquariums, which were a delight to his youngest brother. After matriculating at Bishops in 1988, he carried these passions into his tertiary education, graduating from the University of Cape Town (UCT), with a Master’s in Marine Biology, based on research into optimising the feeding and growth of abalone. Through his MSc, Brynn began a global career in aquaculture, which gained further momentum after an MBA at UCT’s Graduate School of Business, and contributed to the formation of the abalone farming industry in South Africa. All the while, he got his exercise underwater as well, going on to represent South Africa in underwater hockey.
Yet, among all these things, Brynn found a love that was all-eclipsing. He and Wendy Anne Gibson met in their late teenage years. Their marriage, and the family that grew and flourished around this bond, remains a model of devotion. Together with Wendy, Brynn was utterly dedicated as a parent to their children, Ceilidh, Darien, and Ciaran, sparing no effort in furthering their growth and talents. The time and energy put in was boundless, rich with travel and adventure with friends and wider family, with games, sport, tests of endurance, learning, art, conversations, camaraderie, musings, and celebration.
Brynn could not have easily anticipated that his aquaculture background and other events would lead him to agriculture in the Elgin valley. Yet, given his nature to nurture and grow living things, it made sense. After his father James died in 2013, Brynn was brave enough to take over Auldearn and built a home next to his mother Jennifer. Having once spent his workdays tending to abalone housed in an array of intricate aquaculture systems, watching young molluscs turn from maroon to aquamarine, Brynn now wandered Auldearn’s orchards, cultivating trees to yield the fullest crops, as the Pink Ladies took on their rosy glow. Amid these new challenges of agriculture, Brynn also kept his aquaculture venture Deep Blue alive and developing, taking him in recent years to shores as distant as Oman.
Like his father before him, Brynn understood that Auldearn and its success was mostly about people. To his great credit, he chose his management team from Auldearn’s community, picking individuals with potential, guiding them, and finding fulfilment in watching them grow into an effective leadership team. As a leader himself, Brynn was known for his humility, his ability to listen, and to always see the good in people. It is a tragedy that he departs during one of Auldearn’s most successful crop years.
Brynn lived a life that was full, but far too short. He has not lived to see all his labours’ fruits, but these sustain and are cherished by those he leaves behind - his wife Wendy, children Ceilidh, Darien and Ciaran, mother Jennifer, brothers Richard, Gregory, and James, the Auldearn community, and the many friends whose lives he has touched.
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