Whittier, CA resident Robert “Bob” Browning, who was an editor at the Whittier Daily News, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Orange County Register and Los Angeles Times during his 37-year career, has died.
Born in Pasadena, Browning, 69, died Saturday, May 1, from complications from a longstanding lung disease.
He spent most of his 37 years as a copy editor and was named L.A. Times Copy Editor of the Year in 2005 for his work as the sole copy editor on a series of stories that detailed how Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center provided care so poor that it sickened and imperiled some patients. The series won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.
The job was a perfect fit for him, his wife, Judy said.
“Getting into copy editing turned out to be the perfect job for his talents,” she said. “I don’t want to say he was nit picky but he liked details. He wanted to be sure the details were correct. It sort of became a calling.”
Barbara Tarshes, who worked with Browning at the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, called Browning “one of the most interesting people I’ve known.”
The two, along with his wife, shared a love of musical theater, Tarshes said. The three had season tickets at the Music Center and regularly attended the Oregon Shakespeare festival.
Although born in Pasadena, Browning’s parents moved to Whittier where he grew up.
After graduating from Whittier’s California High School, he went to Carleton College in Minnesota and received a bachelor’s degree in 1973 in history.
After graduating, Browning wasn’t sure what he wanted to do for a living, his wife said. He worked as a paralegal, thought he might want to teach music and considered being a music critic for a newspaper she added.
And the latter is how he began his newspaper career, when in 1976 he became a freelance critic for the Whittier Daily News. He was later hired as a reporter/writer and soon became community news editor.
He and his wife were married in 1989.
In 1985, he was hired by the San Gabriel Valley Tribune as a copy editor. In 1992, he moved to the Orange County Register as a copy editor. In 1994, he went to the L.A. Times as a copy editor on the Metro Desk.
Browning also sang in the choir for Whittier First Friends Church for 23 years.
He is survived by his wife, brother, Charles Browning Jr. of New York, and his sister, Anne Browning McIntosh, of Monrovia.
Bob was a good friend and great singer. We performed some wonderful music together, both as students and at our 25th reunion. I'm so sorry that I will not be seeing him at our 50th.
I got to know Bob through shared musical interests, particularly both of us being great opera lovers. We were often part of a group that went to the Childs’ house on Saturday afternoons to listen to the Metropolitan Opera broadcasts. Bob was an excellent vocalist. Every time I hear a particular scene from The Elixir of Love that Bob, Linda Neuman, Mark Friedman and others did during our senior year in an opera scenes production, I think of them. Similarly a duet from Faust always calls to mind a graduation week performance Mark and Bob did. The summer after graduation Mark, Ted Evans, Bob, and I made a western road trip, including spending time at Bob’s house in southern California. Bob and I and our wives had a wonderful time at our Carleton reunion 25 years ago, and we stayed in regular touch after that.
Not a lot of us in our class went into journalism, but Bob rose in the field at one of the best-edited newspapers in the country, so presumably he was a part of it being that way. I did lots of work over the years at the LA Times, so I am surprised Bob didn't work on any of my stories, so far as I know. Maybe my stories would have been better had he been at the computer for them.