Profile: BRIAN NOVLESKY
A black cowboy hat and the heart of an entertainer. Brian Novlesky has both.
Parents Rose and Ben Novlesky shake their heads with a mixture of pride and exasperation when they speak of their son. Brian’s gregarious nature has set the scene for many a story since his childhood. They describe the way he embraces the world around him, all the while making clear his own “vision” of the way things should be.
Rose laughs as she talks about Brian’s attitude toward life and familiar way with people.
“He doesn’t stay a stranger. If there are people around he will introduce himself and get involved.”
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“I think he was an eye opener to a lot of people. He is a real PR man. Doesn’t matter who comes in the house, he’s a PR man. In fact, he and Kenny lived right across from the Baptist church. So Kenny and he went over there and invited people in. Shook hands with them as they came in.”
Brian attended the Peace School of Hope, where he was a student in Annette Huber’s music class. She is quick to remember him. “He was hilarious. He should have been an actor.”
Rose agrees. She says Brian loves music and loved the dances. He used to “dance every dance” when he was younger.
Doreen Miller’s band “the Hawkes” often played music for the dances at the Peace School of Hope. Ethel Badger, sister to Doreen, remembers Brian joining the band on stage to sing “Kumbaya.” He started to sing and then forgot the words, so Ethel started to help him out. “Just minute here,” he said. “I’m singing and you just be quiet.” He took his hat off and addressed the audience. “Sorry about this.” Then he continued on with the performance. Ethel said that she and Doreen could not stop laughing. They “were terrible for giggles” and had a hard time trying to keep playing.
Brian loves music and can name all the country artists. He always wears a cowboy hat. He traveled to B.C. to see Terry Clark in concert. When Anne Murray played a concert in Grande Prairie, Brian met her and asked to have his photo taken with her. How could she resist?
Born in 1957, the third child of Ben and Rose Novlesky, Brian has always been a “presence.” The Novleskys learned very early on that he had real stubborn streak. Rose says he will argue with his parents (to this day) but it’s his older sister that he really listens to.
The Special Olympics were once a great interest of Brian’s. He was a good bowler and used to practice regularly with the team. Rose and Ben tell the story about Brian learning about plans for a trip to Dawson Creek B.C. for a bowling tournament. He really wanted to go along but was told that the only way he could be included was if he entered the tournament. Brian started bowling again, just long enough to go on the trip. Hasn’t bowled since. That stubborn streak again.
Brian now works at Swan Industries. The woodshop has always been his favourite place to work and he especially likes to work with the saws. Brian has tried other work in the community but Rose says that he really didn’t like those jobs. Besides, he talks too much, she says, and sometimes forgets about the cleaning up he is supposed to be doing.
Brian always comes back to work at the workshop. Jan Paton was once a supervisor there and says that Brian was her “right hand man.” She remembers that he was “like a big brother to his peers.” Jan also remembers how Brian would often entertain everyone with his stand-up routines, the “preacher” being one of his most compelling performances.
Brian’s performances are not limited to his workplace. Karen Reinitz, supervisor at Brian’s group home, often finds him busy “announcing acts” and says that, “In his mind, he is there and doing it.” At times like these, Brian gets exasperated if he is called by his own name. He’d prefer to be addressed as “Paul Brandt.”
Paul or Brian. Preacher, singer, or comedian. However you encounter Brian, chances are there will be a black cowboy hat nearby.
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