Emily Browne, activist, NOW president, RIP

Obituary from the Gainesville Sun

In addition to Emily Browne, the past couple weeks saw the passing of two other crusaders for justice in our town, environmentalist Dwight Adams and Civil Rights activist Mildred Hill-Lubin. We acknowledge their contribution to our community and offer condolences to their friends and families.

Emily Marden Browne, age 76, after battling Parkinson’s disease for years, died peacefully on Oct. 12, 2018, in Gainesville, Florida. Emily was born in Glendale, NJ, and moved with her family to Florida in the late 1950s. She earned her bachelor’s degree in mathematics (because UF wouldn’t let her major in engineering!) from the University of Florida.

After a brief stint teaching, she discovered her professional niche, computer programming. She described it as solving puzzles and getting paid for it. She was a pioneer in the field, and made a great career in it, but her real passion was to right wrongs.

She began her work in the struggle for civil rights in the ‘60s. She was part of the March on Washington in 1963, and expanded her fight for justice to encompass women’s rights and gay/lesbian rights soon after. Her guiding principle had been that until all human rights are protected, none of us are free.

Emily was a believer in political action as a means of effecting systemic and therefore cultural, change. Over the past decades, she had done it all: picketing, petitions, precinct walking, legislation writing, candidate support. She even ran for public office in a political gambit.

For many years, Emily was President of the Gainesville NOW (National Organization for Women) and was a co-founder of the Judy Levy chapter of NOW, a precinct coordinator for the Alachua County Democratic Executive Committee, and a lifetime member of the NAACP, and countless other organizations.

Emily was instrumental in protecting women’s health clinics from protesters; she was involved in gaining the inclusion of sexual orientation protections into Gainesville’s anti-discrimination ordinance; and she served on various advisory boards, including the Gainesville Commission on the Status of Women. In 2002 she was awarded the Santa Fe College Woman of Distinction and in 2010 the Friend of Susan B. Anthony award. She was a crusader for justice.

Emily was an avid gardener, loved playing cards, games, and jigsaw puzzles, and even won crossword puzzle tournaments. She was an accomplished painter, specializing in natural landscapes in oil.

She is survived by her brother Jonathan Marden, her two successful daughters, Kimberly Browne and Allison McNeely, and was thrilled to love three wonderful grandchildren: Trevor Yocum, Camden McNeely, and Cassidy McNeely. She was so enamored of her great-grandson, Jackson Yocum, that she lit up the room when holding him. She also cherished her extended family: Brad McNeely, Stephanie Yocum, Donna and Richard Rayburn, Kyle Krumwiede, Linda Bassham, Dottie Faibisy, and many, many friends.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Planned Parenthood, and GO VOTE!  (Note: This ran in the Sun before the election.) 

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