John Val Browning, Last to Run Family Firm, Dies


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Drizzt
March 24, 2003, 04:40 PM
Salt Lake Tribune (Utah)

March 22, 2003, Saturday

SECTION: Final; Pg. B5

LENGTH: 315 words

HEADLINE: John Val Browning, Last to Run Family Firm, Dies

BODY:
The last Browning family member to run the Browning sporting arms company in Morgan died Tuesday after a short illness.

"It's sad to see the grandson of John M. Browning and a former president pass away," said Browning spokesman Paul Thompson. "Sad to see one of the Brownings go."

John Val Browning took control of Browning in 1960 and expanded it to the major international outdoor gear company it is today.

Until 1953, Browning was a tiny two-shotgun company.

Browning's famous grandfather, John Moses Browning, designed more production firearms than anyone of his era, starting in 1878, but manufactured few guns, selling the patents to other manufacturers.

The time of greatest growth of Browning Arms came with John Val Browning's presidency from 1960-76, when the company bought manufacturers of plastics, fishing rods, footwear, knives, golf carts, clothing and archery, and moved from Ogden to Morgan, becoming a major international outdoor gear company.

But that is not what Browning, who was born in Belgium in 1925, will be best remembered for, friends say.

"Giving -- that's what comes to mind," said Bob Geier, director of Browning Firearms Museum in Ogden. "The Browning family, they're just that way, very philanthropic, wonderful people. They have a dynamic presence in Ogden, very active with this museum and the arts."

Browning attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology, then was drafted into the Navy before returning to Belgium to help Fabrique National sporting arms company. He returned to Ogden in 1960 and ran Browning until the company was sold to Fabrique in 1977.

After that, the multi-lingual Browning launched a shale oil company, Southern Pacific Petroleum, which he was active in until his death.

He is survived by wife, the former Carol Conroy, their two children and a son from his first marriage.

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