Library Classroom Dedication to Lynn E. Browne, Friday February 8, 2013

Dedication in Honor of Lynn E. Browne (1923 – 2011)

February 8, 2013


lynn e. browne                              lynn e. browne room dedication

Lynn E. Browne was a native of Batavia and a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Finance. After serving in the U.S. Army with distinction during World War II, he married Phyllis Shiekman and they settled in Philadelphia where he built a successful career in the garment industry, eventually owning one of the nation’s leading button distribution companies. After his wife’s death, Mr. Browne returned to his beloved hometown and immersed himself in serving the Batavia community.

Mr. Browne’s service included 14 years as a member of the Genesee Community College Foundation Board of Directors (1996-2010), twelve of those as treasurer. He was instrumental in overseeing substantial growth in the Foundation’s assets, its endowment fund, and had an unwavering commitment to student housing at College Village.

In 2006, the Genesee Community College Foundation honored Mr. Browne as the first recipient of its Alpha Medal of Service, a prestigious honor now bestowed annually on one individual who has demonstrated extraordinary commitment and service to the College. Last May, the College’s Board of Trustee’s designated the Library classroom to his honor.

“Throughout all of Lynn’s efforts and service to Genesee Community College and the Foundation students were consistently a common denominator. He continuously focused on enabling the success of students by removing the barriers that might be in their way—whether that was student housing, scholarships or other financial concerns,” said Rick Ensman, director of Development and External Affairs. “It is therefore, very appropriate to have a room in our College library dedicated to Lynn, and we are grateful to the Browne family for sharing his crystal Alpha Medal of Service Award for this unique space.”

Related Newspaper Articles:
Dedicated to education and to community, Lynn Browne honored in dedication ceremony at GCC: The Batavian, 2/9/13
GCC to dedicate Library Instruction Room to Lynn E. Browne: The Batavian, 2/2/13
College trustees dedicate classroom in recognition of the late Lynn Browne: The Batavian, 6/1/12

Dedication Speech by William Kaufmann:

"Lynn E. Browne – Commitment to the Community

Lynn Browne was one of the most generous philanthropists in the history of Genesee County. But Lynn didn’t just write checks. He didn’t just give money. He gave of himself: his time, his care, his love.

Lynn Browne was that rare avis: a reverse snow bird. He’d grown up in Batavia, where his father was a well-liked merchant. Lynn told me that he’d never wanted to leave town in the first place. He wished to commute to the University of Rochester, but his mother insisted he attend the University of Pennsylvania. She rode the train to Philadelphia with him because she was afraid he’d get off at one of the stops and come back. He met his wife Phyllis in Philadelphia, he raised a family in Philadelphia, he made his fortune in Philadelphia. And then, as an older man, a widower, while his friends were decamping to Florida or Arizona, Lynn came back to Batavia, his first and best love.

It was if he’d never left. He threw himself into civic affairs: GCC, the Y, the Kiwanis Club, the Holland Land Office, on whose board I served with him for several years. He took up these responsibilities with a sense of duty but also with a real joy: these weren’t grim obligations to him; they were opportunities to express his love of his community. He served as our treasurer, as he served as treasurer for other organizations, and it was fitting title in more ways than one: he really treasured these groups, treasured his neighbors. Lynn brightened his little corner of the world; he left it a richer place, and I don’t mean monetarily. He was a citizen of his place. He was a man to be emulated.

In his final months, when he became seriously ill, his daughter brought him out to Colorado, so she and his grandchildren could watch over him. Shortly before he died he wrote me a letter, sort of an autobiographical ramble. His family was taking good care of him out there, he said. But “I don’t believe that I will ever live in Batavia again,” he wrote, “and I can only dream of returning home.”

Well, I think Lynn never really left. His spirit is in this room, in this building, in this city. His great legacy is his splendid example."