In Rememberance: Robert O. Browne ('53)

11-01-2011 by

Emily McGinley

Rev. Robert O. Browne ('53) passed away at the age of 86 at home on July 2, 2011. He lived a remarkable life, highlighted by his gifts of comedy, ordained ministry and a deep commitment to activism.

His entertainment experience began in 1942 when he was recruited from Webster Groves High School in Missouri to be employed as a professional dancer in the St. Louis Municipal Opera. In the following years, he worked in radio and local theater groups. In 1946, Bob was drafted into the Army and served as Entertainment Director at Camp Stoneman, coordinating entertainment shows for the troops slated to be shipped overseas from California bases. During this time, he was also working in nightclubs in San Francisco as a "stand up" comedian.

Upon release from the Army in 1947, he continued appearing in nightclubs, legitimate theater and radio productions in California. The G.I. bill enabled Bob to return to St. Louis where he attended St. Louis University and receved a B.S. degree in Psychology, plus two years of post graduate work. Suddenly, in 1950, he received and accepted a call to enter training for ordained ministry. He graduated from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago in 1953 and began a ministry that would last 58 years for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). During his long career he served on the national staff, synod staffs and numerous parishes in Illinois, Pennsylvania and New York. Bob became a well-recognized author, preacher, pastoral counselor, keynote speaker, worship leader and consultant for the denomination and others. At one time, he was touted as the "Clown Prince of the Presbyterian Church"!

In combination with his early entertainment background and broad ministry experience, Bob was also a life-long activist, integrating his passion for civil rights, peace and prison ministries, woman's rights and pro-choice legislation into the fabric of his life. His was a unique calling of service to God and others. His hobbies included reading political and theological commentaries, jazz, photograpy, mystery stories, theater and savoring the beauty of New Mexico, his final home since late 2000. Bob is survived by his wife of 32 years, the former Susan Perry Procopio. Other family members include Sharon (daughter), Randall (son), Lisa (step-daughter) and Michael (step-son), three grandchildren and one great grand-daughter.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Russell (son) and two grandchildren. Bob's memorial service was held at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where members of St. Thomas of Canterbury Episcopal Church (Albuquerque, NM) also attended. Both parishes were "church families" for Bob and his wife Susan.

We give thanks for the life of Robert Browne and pray that his long life of ministry brought us closer to God's vision for fullness!