June 25, 1928 ~ December 3, 2019
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 seven 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 six 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 five sons and one 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. You may send condolences to the family at;