Skip to main content

Alaskan Bush People's Bear Brown On Coping With Father Billy Brown's Death And Fulfilling 'His Last Wish'

screenshot bear brown
(Image credit: Discovery)

Out of all of Discovery's various reality shows, Alaskan Bush People certainly takes the cake for authentic DIY efforts and quirky home improvement. While the world has gotten more modern and more technological, the Brown family has only doubled down on their quest to live off the grid, first in Alaska and then Washington state. However, the family notorious for treehouse projects and eating foliage off the ground has been hit with significant hardship over the past year, including devastating wildfires and the passing of their patriarch, Billy Brown. Amidst the current season airing, Bear Brown reflects on coping with the suddenness of the death and fulfilling his late father's last wish.

The Brown family was understandably devastated when Billy Brown died in early February after a seizure at age 68. But it seems they'll have to relive it again when the moment of their 911 call for an ambulance and its tragic aftermath airs this weekend. His son, Bear Brown, updated Entertainment Weekly recently on how they've all been holding up since then, saying,

I took it pretty hard. We all did, really, because Da's passing was pretty unexpected. Everyone I passed on the road or saw me in a store would give me condolences and say how sorry they were. That's one thing that I try to keep in mind, that the whole world — everyone who watched a show, anyway — loved and definitely misses Da. And it's hard. I've been trying to just keep as strong as I can with both my family and the public. Mom has actually been the stone — she's been the strongest, to be honest. I have broken down a couple of times in tears and stuff.

So far on the new season, fans have seen Billy Brown pushing his cohort to rebuild their notorious North Star ranch. After some particularly nasty wildfires in Washington last year, the home they had spent years creating from scratch was destroyed. And now, with their primary motivator gone, one would think a second iteration of the scheme would be delayed if not shelved entirely. But that’s not their way. According to Bear Brown, their family sees the project as realizing their father’s last vision:

Da had been talking to everyone about the plan [to rebuild]. And then, Da's passing just made us want to keep going with the dream, of course — trying to build up the ranch and get everything fixed. It gave us something to do instead of just sitting around and moping. We actually have our hands quite full. It was always Da and Mom planning things like the new barn, and so now Mom basically has that on her shoulders. We try and help and stuff, but I'm not really much of a numbers, building guy. But it's kind of nice having so much to do, to be honest, because it's honoring Da as well. It was literally his last wish, his final dream, to continue building up the ranch and get it sustainable for generations of Browns to come — somewhere you can just live and not really depend on other people, except for your family.

Undoubtedly, if anyone can make a North Star ranch 2.0, it's the Brown family. And when they do, I'm sure Billy Brown would be proud of them. To see new episodes of Alaskan Bush People, head to the Discovery Channel on Sundays at 8 p.m. EST. You can also check out the rest of the Fall schedule here.

Lauren Vanderveen

Freelance writer. Favs: film history, reality TV, astronomy, French fries.