Former Daily Iowan Editor-In-Chief passes away


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Earl S. Browning’s illustrious life came to an end late last month, but his legacy will live on.

Browning, a former Daily Iowan editor and an Army counterintelligence officer, passed away on Oct. 23 at the age of 96.

Browning began exceeding expectations from a young age. He was on the high-school debate team and entered the University of Iowa at the age of 15. He continued debating at the UI, along with his debate partner and later wife, Elisabeth Holt. She died in 2005.

In 1936, Browning became editor-in-chief of The Daily Iowan as a junior. At the age of 18, Browning was the youngest editor-in-chief in the paper’s history. His time at the DI, which lasted until 1937, was something he was always proud of, said Browning’s son, E.S. “Jim” Browning.

“He was immensely proud [of the DI]. He considered it the best daily newspaper … of any kind,” said Jim Browning, a journalist at the Wall Street Journal. “He thought that the DI sought out excellence, [the staff] wanted to be great, not just … acceptable.”

Shortly after receiving degrees in journalism and economics from the UI, the United States entered World War II following the bombing of Pearl Harbor. He joined the Army in 1941 and became part of the Counter Intelligence Corps. In addition to being honored for his service during the war, Browning remained in Europe with the occupation forces.

This is when he made a key decision for which he will always be remembered.

After the war, many German officers became employed as informants for U.S. intelligence. One of these was the former Gestapo chief in Lyon, France, Klaus Barbie, who was guilty of many war atrocities and was known as the “Butcher of Lyon.” Despite some criticism because of Barbie’s potentially valuable information, Browning insisted he should be arrested.

This adherence to his values was something Browning embodied throughout his life, said Browning’s daughter Margaret Browning.

“My father’s legacy is that he was concerned with doing the honorable thing for his own sake,” she said. “Not necessarily for glory or honor or promotion.”

Browning also served in Korea and Vietnam before eventually retiring from the Army in 1971 at the rank of colonel. After his retirement, Browning began traveling the world. His travels began when he was first recruited and was stationed in England for several months. During this time, he visited Stonehenge.

“He just walked up to it and could sit leaning against one of the stones,” Margaret Browning said. “It made a huge impression on him.”

This experience inspired Browning to travel to other monuments, including Angkor Wat and Machu Picchu. Throughout his life, he visited more than 250 countries. Travel was one of the things that made Browning truly happy, Jim Browning said.

“My father had several consuming passions in his life, one of them was travel,” he said. “He traveled the way some people watch birds; he had lists.”

Browning always tried to make time for his family, despite his busy military career, said Browning’s son Andrew Browning.

“He also had a very strong belief in the importance of tradition, of the value of the past,” Andrew Browning said, and one of his fondest memories of his father is an airplane ride they took from Hawaii to India and back when his father was in the military. “It was one of the most memorable experiences in my life.”

One thing that stood out about her father was his appreciation for life, Margaret Browning said.

“My father had a great appreciation for beauty in this world, whether it was manmade … or natural beauty,” she said. “My father never lost his sense of wonder in the world.”

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