Charles Browning

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  1. 1 Life

Charlie Browning was the founder, owner and operator of Browning Funeral Home for 54 years. With a warm handshake and an engaging smile, he was known as the “friendly undertaker.” Born in Evansville, Indiana, on April 14, 1923, he was a 1941 graduate of Memorial High School and he also attended St. Joseph College in Renssalear, Indiana.

Life

During World War II, Charlie enlisted in the United States Navy. He was assigned to the V-12 Naval Program at John Carroll University. Upon graduation from the Naval Base in Plattsburg, New York, he was commissioned as an Ensign in the United States Navy. He served on the LST 628 in the South Pacific Theatre for three years. During his naval years he received a U.S. Naval Medal of Commendation inscribed: “Risking your life to save the life of another.” Following his promotion to 2nd Lieutenant, Charlie continued his service at sea until he returned to his home in Evansville. On August 20, 1946, Charlie married his high school sweetheart, Dolores DeWitt. Charlie graduated from Cleveland College of Mortuary Science and then began his lifelong career in funeral service in Evansville. Because he had a great love of people and their heritage, he began his genealogical research and people study in 1955. From the Evansville newspapers he accumulated 100 years of obituaries and facts about the people of his community. This collection evolved into what is now known as the Browning Genealogy Database. This creation became Charlie’s gift, to everyone, everywhere. His gift became available on the Internet in 1999 and grants us the safekeeping of the history of Southwestern Indiana. His awards for his research include: 1.) The Genealogical Research Award in 1992, from the Historical Society of Evansville, 2.) The Outstanding County Genealogical Contribution Award in 1995 from the Indiana Genealogical Society, 3.) The Government and Public Service Award in 2001, for the Browning Genealogy Database Project for bettering our community through making genealogical records available on the Internet from Leadership Evansville, 4.) The Medal of Honor Award in 2001 from the Daughters of the American Revolution, and 5.) The Veteran of the Year Award in 2007 from Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel.
During his lifetime Charlie was a member of both St. Benedict’s Catholic Church for over 60 years and St. Theresa Catholic Church for 20 years. Charlie was elected to the City Council at Large in 1971 and served a four-year term under Mayor Russell Lloyd. He served as a precinct committeeman for 25 years and also as a delegate to the Indiana State Republican Convention for 20 years. He was a member and past president of Northside Businessmen and Breakfast Optimist Clubs. He was a member of Evansville Rotary Club, Knights of Columbus, life member VFW Post No. 1114, American Legion Post No. 265, Forty And Eight, Serra International, Friends of the Library, Twin Towers, Darmstadt Retirees, Quarterback Club, Friday Lunch Bunch, Friday Night Dance Club, Central Turners, Coterie Club and Thursday Hardee’s Boys. He was a member of the “tour guide group” serving on Evansville’s LST 325. Charlie, frequently, was the main address speaker for Evansville Memorial Day and Veterans Day Celebrations at local cemeteries from 1980-2005, Genealogy Lecturer from 1985-2005, and chairman of the Optimist Club Youth Speech Contest from 1965 to 1997.

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