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Grand Master 1939-1940


Harold William Browning was elected and installed as the eighty-fifth Most Worshipful Grand Master of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons for the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, at the One Hundred mid Forty-Ninth Annual Communication, held at Providence, on Monday, May 15, 1939. He is the first member of Hope Lodge, No. 25, of Wakefield, to be thus honored by election to the office of Grand Master of this jurisdiction.

He was born in Matunuck, R. I,, January 25, 1893, the son of William Robert and Annie (Bliss) Browning. Both parents were descended from early Rhode Island settlers, Nathaniel Browning having settled in Portsmouth, R. I., in 1639. Nathaniel's son William married Rebecca Wilbur, daughter of one of the Pettaquamscutt Purchasers, and owned a tract of land in South Kingstown the ownership of which has passed down directly through eight generations.

After his graduation from the South Kingstown High School in 1910, he entered Rhode Island State College, where he was an undergraduate assistant in the Department of Botany, and received his B. S. degree in 1914. He continued his studies at the University of Wisconsin, serving as graduate assistant, fellow, and instructor in Botany, receiving his M. S. degree in 191G, and his Ph. D. in 1920. His graduate work was interrupted by service in the U. S. Navy, from 1917-1919, with the final rank of Chief Gunner's Mate. He served at seven different stations,— in the medical research laboratory of the 2nd Naval District in Newport, as high explosive chemist at the Naval Proving Grounds at Indian Head, and as Navy inspector at The Barrett Co., Philadelphia, among others.

Dr. Browning has been professor of Botany and head of the Botany Department at Rhode Island State College in Kingston since 1920, Acting Dean of Science 1930-1931. and Director of Graduate Studies since 1930. He attended summer school at the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole in 191(5 and Harvard Summer School in 1923, 1930 and 1935, taking work in Landscape Architecture and Education. In recognition of his scholastic attainments, he has been elected to membership in several national honor societies, including Phi Kappa Phi. Phi Sigma, and Sigma Ni, and elected a Fellow in the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He is also a member of the Botanical Society of America and several other scientific and learned societies.

He was married on September 8, 1922, to Mary E. Williams of New Bedford, and they have four children: Harold William Browning, Jr., born May 19, 1924: Beatrice Ann Browning. January 22. 192li: Ralph Walter Browning. August 20. 1927; and David Gunter Browning, May 3, 1937.

Brother Browning was made a member of Hope Lodge, No. 25, of Wakefield, in June, 1919, and served that Lodge as its Master in 1926-1927. He is also o member of the following Masonic bodies: Unity Royal Arch Chapter, No. 12, Wakefield; Narragansett Council, No. 6, R. & S. M., East Greenwich; Narragansett Commandery, No. 27, K. T., Westerly; Solomon's Lodge of Perfection, 14°, Providence; R. I. Council, Princes of Jerusalem, 16°, Providence; R. I. Chapter of Rose Croix, 18°, Providence, of which he was recently elected Master of Ceremonies, and Rhode Island Consistory, 32°, Providence.

In Grand Lodge, he was appointed Grand Sword Bearer by M. W. Grand Master Arthur S. Vaughn in 1929, and Seventh District Deputy Grand Master by M. W. Grand Master Henry S. See in 1930. He was advanced annually to the office of Grand Master, serving as District Deputy for every District but the First.

He is the Grand Representative of the Grand Lodge of Denmark and has received several other Masonic honors. On June 20, 1939, he was elected to Honorary Membership in the Grand Lodge of North Dakota; on October 14, 1939, he was made a Tall Cedar of Lebanon "at sight" in Massasoit Forest, West Barrington; on January 20,1940, he was given an honorary life membership in the National League of Masonic Clubs; and on March 13, 1940, he was awarded the Henry Price Medal for distinguished service by M. W. Joseph Earl Perry, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts.

Brother Browning has been a member of Nestell Chapter, No. 6, Order of the Eastern Star, since 1928, serving as Patron in 1932, as Grand Sentinel of the Grand Chapter in 1933, and on the Advisory Board of South Kingstown Assembly, Order of Rainbow for Girls, for several years.

He has served as Master of West Kingston Grange, No. 10, Patrons of Husbandry, and the Town of South Kingstown as a member of the School Committee from 1927-1932, and as Town Moderator since 1939.

Dr. Browning is a member of Eta Chapter, Theta Chi Fraternity, and of the graduate scientific fraternity of Gamma Alpha, also the University Club of Kingston and the British Empire Club of Providence.

As a hobby, his special interest in horticulture is in day-lilies and narcissi, having a large collection of each.

To the office of Grand Master he gave freely of his time, of his ability, and of his energies. He was especially well acquainted with the problems of the smaller rural lodges and in their welfare he was especially interested. His chosen profession of education and his broad academic background enabled him to prepare and deliver many timely Masonic addresses which received widespread commendation of the brethren throughout the jurisdiction, and which will serve to make his year as Grand Master of more than ordinary prominence.

Rhode Island People