James L. Browne, 87
Jim Browne lived a full, active and blessed life. He was born Aug. 26, 1931, in Detroit, Mich., to Herbert and Etta Browne. He died peacefully, surrounded by family, on Aug. 11, 2019, at Schneidmiller Hospice House, after a very short illness.
Jim grew up in Michigan and attended Wyandotte Elementary School, Alpena High School and Michigan Technological University. After graduation, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and served two years at bases in the southern U.S. Upon discharge, he returned to Michigan Tech and earned his master’s degree in geological engineering.
His fascination with rocks began at an early age and increased in high school. A teacher suggested he read a geology book to learn more about this subject after Jim asked him questions about a rock. Geology became his focus, and ultimately his career. He worked in Washington, Montana and in Idaho, where he retired from Hecla Mining Company as manager of exploration. His work also took him to Alaska, Arizona, California, Columbia, Colorado and Nevada.
Jim had four children with his first wife, Sonja Nordrum. He shared his love of nature and the outdoors with his children, beginning when they were very young — they hiked, canoed, picked huckleberries, snowshoed and kayaked. He was immensely proud of the adults they have all become and delighted in spending time with his grandchildren and great-granddaughters. He married Barbara Olson in 1979, adding her four teenagers to the family. Jim was a positive influence in their lives, setting a good example and providing guidance.
Jim and Barb enjoyed traveling together to the Virgin Islands, New Zealand and all 50 states. In his retirement, Jim began scroll sawing and woodworking, creating beautiful pieces of furniture and framed works. He served on the Idaho State Board of Geology for several years. He was an avid reader; his love of books gave him many hours of enjoyment and he frequented both the Coeur d’Alene and Hayden libraries. Jim loved gardening as well and created a beautiful flower and rock garden that was admired by all.
He continued to follow his passion for geology by mapping areas of the North Idaho Panhandle, an activity that brought him years of enjoyment and outdoor exercise. He completed numerous topographic maps that were published by the State of Idaho. He thoroughly enjoyed this work — it helped to keep him young — and he was out mapping the day before he became ill on July 8.
Jim was preceded in death by his parents and stepdaughter, Roberta Olson. He is survived by his wife, Barbara of Coeur d’Alene; daughter, Karen Browne of Coeur d’Alene; sons, Gordon (Julie) of Camano Island, Wash., Kevin (Maria) of El Paso, Texas and Curtis (Stephanie) of Renton, Wash.; as well as his brother, Donald (Mary Jo) Browne of Golden Valley, Minn. He is also survived by his stepchildren, Vicki Olson of Mason, Ohio, Mike (Kristy) Olson of Ceres, Calif. and Curtis (Mikki) Olson of Newman Lake, Wash. Jim is also survived by 15 grandchildren, four great-granddaughters and two nephews.
A celebration of life will be held at 11 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 26, 2019, which would have been Jim’s 88th birthday. It will be held at Yates Funeral Home - Hayden Chapel, 373 E. Hayden Ave., Hayden, ID 83835. Casual attire is welcome.
In lieu of flowers, the family prefers donations to Hospice of North Idaho, 2290 W. Prairie Ave., Coeur d’Alene, ID 83815 (www.hospiceofnorthidaho.org). Please visit Jim’s online memorial and sign his guest book at www.yatesfuneralhomes.com.