Laurance L. Browning Jr., 83, former vice chairman of Emerson Electric and former president of Browning Mfg., died at his home in Maysville, Ky., Sunday morning. A native of Maysville, Mr. Browning was born May 13, 1929, a son of the late Laurance L. and Dorothy Nulton Browning. He is survived by his wife of almost 60 years, the former Virginia Louise Jackson of Aurora, N.Y. Mr. Browning was serving as executive vice-president and chief operating officer of Browning Mfg. in Maysville in 1969, when he negotiated the merger of Browning into Emerson Electric, the St. Louis-based global manufacturing company with subsidiaries operating in the U.S. and around the world. Mr. Browning graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy, and then attended Cornell University where he received a bachelor of mechanical engineering degree. Upon graduation from Cornell, he served as a mechanical development officer in the Research and Development Command of the U.S. Air Force for two years, attaining the rank of first lieutenant. He began his career with Browning Mfg. as a sales engineer located in Pittsburgh, Pa. After two years, he returned to Maysville and progressed through various assignments in manufacturing and administration. From the time of the merger until 1973, he served as president of Browning and group vice president of Emerson. In 1973, Mr. Browning moved his family to St. Louis where he held positions as executive vice president and chief administrative officer at Emerson. He served in the office of the chief executive and later became vice chairman of the company. In 1969, Mr. Browning was elected a director of Emerson, a position he held until his retirement in 2002. He also served as a director of the Firstar Corporation. Mr. Browning was involved in a wide range of civic, charitable and arts-related programs both in Maysville and in St. Louis. He served on the board of directors of the Tom Browning Boys and Girls Club, was a founding member of the Maysville Players. He served on the inaugural board of the Fleming-Mason Airport. In St. Louis, he was a founder and director of the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, and was a director of Grand Center, Sheldon Concert Hall, the St. Louis Science Center, the St. Louis Symphony and Webster University. He was a Director of Inroads Inc, a vice president and director of the Arts and Education Council of Greater St. Louis and the 1982 chairman of the Arts and Education Fund Drive. He was a director of Forest Park Forever, the St. Louis Children's Hospital, the Missouri Historical Society and the Sheldon Arts Foundation. He served on the executive committee of the United Way of Greater St. Louis, was a member of the Missouri Arts Council, a trustee of the St. Louis Community Foundation and the St. Louis Art Museum. Other affiliations included the National Association of Manufacturers, the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, the Associated Industries of Kentucky, Associated Industries of Missouri, the St. Louis Regional Growth and Commerce Association and SCS/Compute. He was a member of the Reformed Episcopal Church of the Holy Trinity. Other survivors include three daughters Virginia Browning (Joe) Ilick of Santa Fe, Kathryn B. (Doug) Hendrickson of Maysville, and Dorothy Browning (Carl) Colby of Vail, Colo.
Mr. Browning is also survived by seven granddaughters, Sarah Adair Hendrickson, Dorothy Winslow (Ross) Blankenship; Zorayda Anne Hendrickson, Laura Douglas Hendrickson, Maxine Elizabeth Dominey, Ellen Alexandra Hendrickson, Moira O'Neil; one grandson, Eric Peter Konstantine Illick; and one great granddaughter, Jackson Rose Blankenship.
One brother, Louis (Kay) Browning, of Maysville survives, while a brother, Robert Evans Browning, preceded him in death.
Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Thursday at First Presbyterian Church with Rev. Kenneth J. G. Semon officiating. Arrangements are in the charge of the Knox and Brothers Funeral Home. Visitation will be at the Browning Residence, 840 Park Drive, from 5 until 7 p.m. Wednesday. Memorial contributions can be made to Hospice of Hope or the Tom Browning Boys and Girls Club.