Val A. Browning was an inventor, industrialist, and philanthropist.
He was born on August 20, 1895, the only child born to John M. Browning, the inventor of dozens of weapons including the Browning Automatic Rifle. His father was founder of the Browning Arms Company. At one time, the Utah company was the world’s largest manufacture of small arms.
Browning graduated from Ogden High School in 1912 and studied mechanical engineering and law at Cornell University. He served during World War I (with the rank of first Lieutenant) and taught instructors at the US Army’s machine gun school in France, using guns that the Brownings had invented and manufactured. He was named manager of the Browning Arms factory in Liege, Belgium, in 1920.
He lived in Europe with his wife Ann Chaffin until 1935 when they returned to Utah and he served as president of the Browning Arms Company. He continued to improve guns and held many patents, which included improvements to his father’s designs.
He was decorated by King Baudouin of Belgium with the Cross of Chevalier de l'Order de Leopold in 1955, the same honor his father received from King Albert in 1914 “for "eminent services rendered to gun making.”
He used his wealth to build fine arts, education, and healthcare, including endowments for the Val A. Browning Administration Building at UVU in Orem, Utah; the Val A. Browning Fine Arts Center at Weber State University; the Val A. Browning Library at Dixie College in St. George, Utah; a cancer treatment center at St. Benedict’s Hospital in Ogden; and the St. Joseph High School Library in Ogden, to name a few. He donated a European masterwork collection to the Utah Museum of Fine Arts. He was a benefactor to Weber State University and Dixie State University.
Browning passed away on May 16, 1994. He and his wife were the parents of four children. He was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.