Robert W. Browne

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Robert W. Browne (born November 12, 1924) is an American orthodontist, business leader, and philanthropist from the U.S. state of Michigan.

Early life

Browne was born and raised in Coldwater, Michigan. He was raised by his paternal grandparents, Henry and Muriel Browne. As a young boy, Dr. Browne lived both in town and on his family's farm in Batavia Township, where he attended the first through eighth grades in a one-room school with 17 students. His home at the farm had neither electricity nor plumbing.[1]

Military service

Following his graduation from Coldwater High School in 1942, Browne enrolled at the University of Michigan. Like many people his age, his college career was interrupted by World War II. He joined the Army Air Corps 41st Squadron and was dispatched to Hollandia, New Guinea (then Leyte Island) in the Philippines.

To gain strategic advantage, the United States needed to enter the Bay of Manila to continue its northern push through the Philippines. Control over Corregidor Island was essential. Based on Leyte Island, Browne piloted the C-47 which dropped troops and supplies onto Corregidor Island. Three planes were to drop three battalions of the 503rd Parachute Regimental Combat Team onto a tiny strip of land on the top side of the island.

Flying at an altitude of 400 feet in dense fog conditions, Browne made multiple passes over the drop zone to ensure his men reached their target, since only half-dozen paratroopers could safely drop at a time. With each pass, the C-47 endured heavy enemy fire. Browne, then a Second Lieutenant, was awarded the Air Medal for his bravery.[2]

Education and career

When the war ended, Browne returned to the University of Michigan and completed his Bachelor of Science degree. He then enrolled in and graduated from the University's School of Dentistry. After earning his dental degree in 1952, Browne practiced dentistry in Kalamazoo, Michigan until 1957 when he returned to the School of Dentistry to earn his master's degree in orthodontics.

After completing the degree in 1959, he practiced orthodontics in Grand Rapids, Michigan for the next 20 years.

Inspired by his maternal grandmother's desire for a dignified senior living community, Browne and two partners formed the John Roberts Corporation in 1962. Collectively named by John Stuit, Robert Richards, and Browne, the nursing home company expanded to include the Kiddie Care Corporation, an intergenerational concept combining the care of children and seniors on the same campus. The company acquired homes and home healthcare agencies in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Florida and California.

In July of 1968, Browne and the corporate team took the company public, forming the Care Corporation. Care Corporation operated three divisions as it grew over the next 18 years: nursing homes, recreation centers and home health care.[3] In 1986, Owens Illinois purchased the company.[4]


To honor his grandmother, Muriel, Browne gave a gift to renovate the Coldwater United Methodist Church in 1997. In 2002, he donated funds to build the Henry L. Brown Municipal Building in honor of his grandfather, a grocery clerk who served on the City Council from 1938 to 1942.

Browne and his wife, Lynn, made the financial commitment of funding up to $14.6 million for a major expansion of recreational facilities in Coldwater, the Robert W. Browne Recreational Center. The expansion included an eight lane competitive pool, separate warm water therapy pool, spectator seating, locker rooms and community rooms.[5]

Browne has been a benefactor to the University Of Michigan School Of Dentistry as well as other units at the University. The orthodontics wing named for him has 34 new chairs in an open clinic setting; new x-ray facilities, offices, conference rooms and patient waiting room; expanded business and consultation areas; and an updated teaching laboratory.[6]

Browne also provided gifts the Robert Browne Center at Aquinas College, the Robert Browne Atrium at DePauw University, the Kellogg Eye Center at the University of Michigan, and numerous educational institutions and charities throughout the State of Michigan.

Personal life

Browne and his wife, Lynn, were married for more than 60 years prior to her death on March 17, 2013. They had four children and six grandchildren.