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Bruce Warren Browning

Born: 6/25/1928, Leige, Belgium
Death: 12/3/2019, Moab, Utah

Bruce Warren Browning of Moab, Utah, the fourth and last generation of Browning gun designers, died December 3, 2019 at the age of 91, from complications of pneumonia.

He was the second son of Ann Chaffin and Val Allen Browning of Ogden, Utah and was born June 25, 1928 in Liege, Belgium. The family moved back to Ogden in 1935 when Bruce was 7 years old. He was educated in Ogden public schools, the University of Utah and Stanford University.

After earning a degree in Philosophy, he became a ‘cub reporter’ covering the police beat, writing obituaries and other diverse assignments, at the Chico Enterprise-Record in northern California.

Subsequently, he returned to work with his father, Val, and his brother, John Val,at Browning Arms Company in Ogden, Utah. As a kid he had started sweeping the gun shop floors, now he became head of Research and Development. He took classes to learn machining, essential for his role as an inventor and model maker. Bruce was granted around a dozen patents in his name, many of them original patents, and commercially successful patents on guns that are in production today. Three highly regarded projects by Bruce are: The Medalist .22 Pistol, designed by Bruce, often regarded as a masterpiece in mechanical perfection, fit and finish; the T-Bolt Rifle, the first straight pull rifle built in this country since the 1900’s, designed by Jack Donaldson, but brought to market by Bruce’s foresight and diligence; the new BAR Sporting high powered rifle, designed by Bruce, and is still the best selling semi-auto sporting rifle in the world. He traveled frequently to Belgium to work through gun manufacturing and design problems with Fabrique Nationale and later with Miroku in Japan. In the Kurt Gentry book, John M. Browning: American Gunmaker, the author refers to Bruce, “who inherited from his illustrious forbearers the ability to convert dreams into live steel.”

After retiring from Browning Arms, Bruce moved to Bainbridge Island,Washington in 1971. He and his sons built a family research and development business. This business worked on various products, mostly centered around using a split sprocket transmission Bruce invented. This invention was remarkable because shifts were possible under full load. This invention was successfully licensed to Suntour. Since the sprockets and chain were always engaged, shifts could take place at any time. This allowed the development of the first fully automatic bicycle. This product was manufactured and marketed by the family. Numerous international companies have attempted to achieve this feat, but no one else matched this invention’s performance. Bruce and his sons were granted several more original patents during this time. At one point, Bruce and Browning Research were invited to present their invention to the International Olympic Committee. Thereafter, the IOC wrote a special rule banning their invention from competition. Always logical and fair, Bruce agreed with this action because their automatic bicycle did give a significant performance advantage to its rider.

This last year, Bruce was working on an invention to simplify installation of sprinkler systems.

Bruce met his first wife, Gloria Sanford of Salt Lake City, Utah, at Stanford. They were married shortly after he graduated. Bruce and Gloria had 6 sons and raised them in the hills around Ogden, Utah. Their home in the canyon was a paradise of inventions, explosions and freedom. He adored his sons and was very involved in their lives. He was a very interactive father. He deeply enjoyed their spirited, lively discussions. He respected their thinking and opinions. Shortly after moving to Washington state, Bruce and Gloria divorced.

Bruce was an avid reader with wide-ranging interests. He was open to a diversity of bold, new, adventurous music. He enjoyed tennis, skiing, sailing, hiking, and biking. He had a finely honed sense of the absurd; his wit was subtle and kind. His work was very important and satisfying to him. Bruce said that he didn’t fear death, and often said he had “had a full life” and he had done about everything he wanted. He was a principled, ethical person. He will be missed, and mourned, but never forgotten.

After a 32 year engagement, Bruce and Barbara Grange Cowley were married. They had built a home, designed by Barbara, in Moab, Utah. Bruce enjoyed their home in all the ways Barbara had hoped he would. It became his favorite place to be. Barbara’s children, Lisa and Chris Cowley, always loved and respected Bruce.

Bruce cared deeply about the Moab community and the wider universe. He quietly supported a diverse range of causes and searches for solutions.

Bruce was predeceased by two sons, John Bradley Browning in 1979 and Michael Curtis Browning in 1993.

He is survived by 5 sons and 1 daughter: David Lawrence Browning (Amy); Marc Sanford Browning (Annie); Christopher Mose Browning (Liz); Paul Chaffin Browning (Sally); Christopher Kim Cowley (Laura);and Lisa Cowley (Larry). He is survived by his wife Barbara, his sisters Carol Dumke and Judy Jones, former wife Gloria, many grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews.

Donations can be made in tribute to Bruce Browning to Moab Music Festival online at www.moabmusicfest.org/bruce-browning or calling (435) 259-7003.

A future gathering of family and friends is to be announced.

Tributes:

You didn't have to be "somebody" to be treated warmly by the Brownings. I enjoyed many visits with Bruce, and always fealt priveliged that he, his wife and kids allowed me to join them for a casual visit at the Mt. Eyrie tennis Club in Ogden. I will always remember the Brownings as some of the finest and friendliest people I have ever met. My best wishes and blessings to Bruce. I'm sure he will make many friends in Heaven where he now resides
- Bob Bilak

I was Bruce's secretary in the Research & Development Department at Browning arms in the late '60s & early 70's. If my memory serves me correctly, he & the department were working then on the BAR. He was a fun boss, work was not work at all but so interesting! During part of this time, I was pregnant with my first child. He loved his kids & family so much. I left Browning when we moved to Louisville, Kentucky, for my husband to attend dental school. He was a kind, honest, ethical & wonderful boss. One of my best jobs ever! So sorry for your loss. A life truly well lived!
- Dianne Christensen

Barbara, I'm sorry for your loss. I have thought many times about the time I sat next to you at a concert at Red Cliffs. You and Bruce held hands and it was wonderful. How lucky you guys were. Love,
- Ed Weeks

I worked as Bruce's secretary in the mid to late 60's and he was a great man and wonderful to work with. We had long discussions daily and enjoyed running the gun museum. It was fun to have my office right next to Val Browning and John Val was up by the front of the building. Drove by the building in Mountain Green the other day and it brought back good memories. I gave birth to my second son when I was working for him and he and his wife visited me in the hospital and brought me the most beautiful roses in a real silver bowl (which we still have). He was a highly intelligent and kind man and lived a long productive life. My condolences to the family.
- Jenny Kammeyer

Our deepest condolences to the Browning family on the loss is Bruce-truly a remarkable gentleman. I worked closely with the family on bicycle matters some years back when the center of gravity was on Bainbridge Island. Bruce and each of the "boys" (Marc, Christopher and Paul) I had the privilege to know exhibited sterling qualities of intellect and character. The world is a better place because of Bruce and his family.
- Jim & Kathy Tune

We feel so honored to have been in Bruce's presence and in Barbara & Bruce's lovely home. We thoroughly enjoyed the personal time we got to spend with him. Now our Browning gun is more precious than ever! Barbara, know that we adore you and our hearts are very much with you as we all mourn our planet's tremendous loss. What a gift Bruce made out of his strengths and out of his life, and what a role model he has been for "out of the box" thinkers and inventors, and all those with "a finely honed sense of the absurd." Sending you our deepest condolences. Love
- Ruth & Tom Dillon

As a young man of twenty years, I had the distinct pleasure and opportunity to get to know Bruce and his son Chris while working in Browning's Research and Development department in Morgan, Utah. I found Bruce to be kind, highly intelligent and sometimes painfully honest. That was the early 70's and forty six years later, well, I'm still here as are many with twenty five and thirty plus years of service. A fitting tribute to the man, the family and the Browning company. I have remained in contact with Chris and his daughter Ann, Bruce's granddaughter, which I consider an honor.
- Scott Grange

Barbara, So sad to hear of Bruce's passing. I'm so sorry for you loss. In the little time I knew Bruce, I found him to be a very charming, intelligent, savvy and compassionate man. He was also funny, clever and thought outside of the box. Moab is a better place because of Bruce and you and your commitments to serve in so many capacities in our great community. I am in Guatemala until January but would like to give you a big hug. Bruce will be missed. Barbara, my heart goes out to you in this time. Please accept my heartfelt condolences. In sympathy,
- Stephanie Dahlstrom

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