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Mary Brown grew up in Blaine, Washington and got her first job as a cannery worker in 1976 on the slime line at Alaska Packer Association's cannery in Larsen Bay, Alaska. She continued to be a summer seasonal employee at canneries in southwestern Alaska, including for tanner crab and shrimp at Dutch Harbor, packing eggs at Uganik, and as a receptionist, expeditor, mail clerk, and laundry worker at <NN> Cannery in South Naknek. In 1981, Mary married a local fisherman, Bill Brown, and settled in the community, where she continued to work for canneries and participate in local fishing.