John & Sandy Brawn Day

Sandy and John Brawn

Joe and Malcolm Gauld are not the only familiar faces at Hyde Bath who have been a campus presence for many decades.  Chef John Brawn has been a Hyde fixture for the past 46 years and has prepared more than 40,000 meals for the students, faculty and visitors of Hyde over the course of his career.  John also holds the distinction of never taking a sick day in his entire career at Hyde!

After John had completed twenty five years without missing a day, the administration at Hyde wanted to do something special to thank him for his service.  Knowing that John was a huge Red Sox fan, they arranged a “Red Sox Weekend” for him, including lodging, food and of course excellent seats at the game.

Malcolm recalls John coming to him soon after receiving the gift, arriving at Malcolm’s office with a very serious look on his face, and he announced to Malcolm that he could not go for the weekend.  When Malcolm inquired why, John responded “Well, I have to keep the streak going.”  Malcolm added “This was around the time that Cal Ripken was about to surpass Lou Gehrig’s consecutive game record, so John was feeling inspired.”

John Brawn at a senior BBQ on the Mansion porch
John Brawn grilling at a senior BBQ on the Mansion porch

Malcolm, as quick on his feet as ever, immediately proposed a solution to the dilemma, telling John “Okay, I’ve been thinking that we ought to switch to Fenway Franks as the hotdog of choice for Hyde dining.  So I’d like you to go down to Fenway Park, do some taste-testing, compare their hot dogs with the ones we serve, and come back to me with a written report on what we should do.  I’ll expect the report before the end of the week.”

Malcolm said that once it dawned on John that his trip to Fenway was now an assignment which would allow him to keep his streak going, he smiled and eagerly accepted.  That was at 25 years, and John kept up the streak for another 21!

John came to Hyde in 1968 as a culinary school graduate and began work as an Assistant Chef after working at Bill’s Restaurant in Brunswick.  He took over the kitchen helm from his former mentor Bob Masse and has been running the show ever since.  When asked why he stayed at one job for nearly his entire career, John cites “the great people at Hyde, including the students.”  He remains in contact with many of Hyde’s alumni, particularly those from his early days on campus.

Standing by John for the last 24 years – both in the front and back of the kitchen – has been his wife, Sandy.  Sandy’s responsibilities have included serving meals, preparing “to-go” meals, and billing.

Residents of Bowdoin, John and Sandy have been married 48 years, have two children and eight grandchildren.  They plan on staying in Maine “at least for five years,” says John, so they can spend more time with their family.

After a combined 70 years of service to Hyde, the Brawns have made the decision to retire and Saturday, June 7 has been designated Sandy and John Brawn Day.

The celebration will be held in Bath.  All are welcome and encouraged to attend. Registration is now closed. Please contact Joy Bengtson for more information, (207) 386-5206 or jbengtson@hyde.edu.