Dr. Jesse “Jess” Harrison Browning was born on a farm in Missouri on July 27, 1935 and moved with his family to Washington State during World War II. He passed away on October 18, 2019 at the age of 84 of pancreatic cancer at home on Bainbridge Island and surrounded by his family. His parents, Jesse Harrison Browning, Sr. and Anna Love Browning, had seven daughters and Jess was their only son. Both parents were deaf, but they discouraged their children from speaking American Sign Language as they felt it would be more difficult for them to communicate with other hearing children.
Jess enjoyed saying his life story was the tale of how a farm boy came to teach international trade and logistics at a major university. He married the love of his life, Vicki Thompson, December 21, 1957 while both were students at the University of Washington (UW).
In 1957 Jess left the UW to serve in the US Army. After his service he returned to the UW and majored in chemistry and became a chemical analyst for Boeing subcontractors. Following several promotions Boeing sent him and his family to Southern California where many of the subcontractors were located.
Jess left Boeing in 1963 and became an entrepreneur owning his own manufacturing business in Los Angeles. He and Vicki raised four daughters during their 27 years in Palos Verdes Estates, California. While living in California he obtained his pilot’s license and took his family on special trips in his Cessna Skymaster. He returned to school completing a master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Southern California in 1988. Returning to Washington in 1989, he went on to earn a PhD from the UW and was able to pursue his dream of teaching.
At the UW, he taught Economic Geography in a graduate program called Global Trade Transportation and Logistics Studies. Jess retired in 2000 and consulted for the UW for a few years before completely retiring and devoting his time to family genealogy and travel for pleasure. He and Vicki traveled the globe together. In 2017 they combined his passions of genealogy and travel and took a trip to England to trace family roots. Jess was the 12th generation of American Brownings, who trace their roots to Jamestown, Virginia. One of Jess’s favorite pastimes in retirement was writing books on the Browning family from his genealogical research. He enjoyed sharing his books with friends and family.
Jess was a devout Lutheran and was an active member of Bethany Lutheran Church on Bainbridge Island. He enjoyed his men’s Oatmeal Club and having lunch with his Rotary friends. Most of all Jess loved his family. He is survived by his loving wife of 62 years, Vicki; his devoted daughters: Carrie (Jim Duwe), Alexa Suvak, Nanci (John Hodge), and Susan (Bob Maier); and five of his adoring sisters Theora Doyle, Arlene Earle, Loris Ketter, Karen Ansteth, and Darien Parsons. Jess was blessed with 10 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. While his family will miss his earthly being, there is comfort knowing he is home with his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Bethany Lutheran Church Memorial Fund or Bainbridge Island Rotary Scholarship Foundation. A service will be held on October 26th 1 p.m. at Bethany Lutheran Church, Bainbridge Island, WA.