I usually write about Parkinson’s Disease or something related to that subject. However, today I want to write about a remarkable woman, Emma C. Browning.
Miss Emma (as I have called her for many, many years) was a true pioneer, feminist, aviator, Christlike, courageous leader. I met Miss Emma years ago after I moved to this Central Texas town. Reluctantly searching for a church home, I wandered into a large Cathedral-like church in the center of the town. Timidly looking for an empty seat, I spied a very tiny woman with large glasses and a huge smile. She greeted me, “Welcome, Honey, come and sit here by Miss Emma!” – and I obeyed.
Through the years I learned that Emma C. Browning was not just a friendly face at church, but a pioneer in aviation. She met a “daredevil” pilot and married Robert Browning in 1930. Miss Emma earned her pilot’s license in 1939 and became his ferry pilot as he barnstormed across Texas. At the beginning of World War II the Brownings moved to Central Texas to compete for U.S. government contracts to train pilots.
That was the beginning of Browning Aerial Service, a Fixed Base Operation in Central Texas. She taught many individuals to fly, but she was more at home managing Browning Aerial Services. But don’t let that fact fool you. That tiny Miss Emma was a dynamo – not only a seasoned and experienced pilot, but a top-notch business woman who ran the business with her son after Robert passed away in 1973. In a male dominated profession, Miss Emma was treated with respect and admiration because she was knowledgeable and honest. She was inducted into the Texas Aviation Hall of Fame in 2005 and was a staunch advocate for general aviation.
Miss Emma knew her Bible as well as she knew the skies above Central Texas. She believed that her devotion to Christ, the steadfastness of her faith, and the eternal truth of God’s Word would work out any crisis, heart-ache or trouble people faced. Her sincerity, genuine affection and interest in my life drew me close to her every Sunday. I shied away from people my age in order to spend time with her and fell the calmness of her presence and the love of Christ.
While my heart hurts over losing Miss Emma, I realize that her 99 years were well spent on this earth. Her philanthropy, warmth, generosity and faith have inspired me this week, as it has done for many other weeks. I shall miss her in the future as I miss her now. But I do know that she is with her beloved Robert and her son in the presence of our Lord.
I’ll bet she’s busy organizing the flights of the angels, making sure their halos and wings are ready for take-off. Bless you Miss Emma for the enormous blessing you’ve been to me.