Meet Cecil R. Browne
This article was written by Arthur M. Woodford in the 2008 edition of The Delta News. It’s about Cecil R. Browne, the donor of Browne’s Field – our Island gem.
Cecil R. Browne
Every time we drive onto or off the ferry, we pass by a very special Island place – Browne's Field. This park, so familiar to all of us, was given to the citizens of Harsen's Island by lifetime resident Cecil R. Browne.
Cecil Browne was born in 1895. His parents, William and Minna, had a farm at Grande pointe (on property formerly owned by Milton and Evelyn Osgood.)
The Browne children, five girls and two boys, all helped out on the farm which included raising cattle, vegetables, potatoes, corn, milk and eggs. It was one of Cecil's jobs to deliver this farm produce to the nearby Grand Pointe Hotel.
Cecil Attended the Island school and then took correspondence courses to further his education. When the United States entered the First World War he joined the army and served in France. When the war was over Cecil returned home and began a career of nearly 45 years with the Ford Motor Company rising to the position of cost accountant.
Cecil retired to his farm on the Island where he raised sweet corn, "the best this side of Iowa," his many friends said. One of Cecil Browne's most remembered traits was that of his generosity – whether it was helping out a family member, giving a neighbor an arm load of his fresh corn, donating to a variety of charities, or his support of St. Paul's Protestant Church.
However, his gift giving didn't end here. Seeing a community need, he donated in 1970 a ten acre parcel of his land to the residents of Harsen's Island through a foundation set up by the Harsen's Island - St. Clair Flats Association.
On November 5, 1969 Mr. Browne's home was destroyed by fire but a group of local residents joined together to help him rebuild his house. It was from this new home that Cecil watched his donated property being developed into a recreational park for use by all the residents of his beloved Island community. Cecil continued to live here on the Island until his death on July 24, 1972. Today, Cecil R. Browne is remembered for his generous gift – the Cecil R. Browne Recreation Area.
Browne's Field is maintained and operated by HISCFA. It's a park that's enjoyed year round by all Islanders.
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