Honoring an Aunt and Mentor

Photo of Louise Browning (second from left) receiving her MSW at Simmons College in Boston, 1952.
Louise Browning (second from left) receiving her MSW at Simmons College in Boston, 1952.

In 2005 Robert "Bob" Browning Andersen quietly established an endowed scholarship in memory of his aunt and mentor, Louise Browning. Every year Bob added a few thousand dollars until the Louise Browning Memorial Scholarship in the College of Social Work would generate a $500 scholarship. "Hardly anyone knew he was doing this," says Bob's daughter, Tracy Andersen. "This secret was one of his greatest sources of joy."

When Bob died in 2013, the college learned what Tracy had known for years—that nearly the entirety of her father's estate was to be directed to the scholarship. Tracy describes her father as a private person; and when he spoke about the scholarship in honor of his beloved Aunt Louise, "you could see the joy in his eyes," she says.

Louise Browning worked as an elementary school teacher and a medical records librarian until a crippling illness and lengthy recovery caused her to rethink her professional choices. She returned to the University of Utah in the 1940s and earned bachelor's and master's degrees in sociology and later received a master's degree in social work from Simmons College in Boston. Her self-described "interest in the emotional components of ills and in the study of human behavior" led her to serve as a counselor in the U's Bureau of Student Counsel and to join the U's faculty, teaching social work and sociology classes.

Photo of Bob Andersen
Bob Andersen earned his MSW in 1965, following in the footsteps of his aunt and mentor, Louise Browning.

Bob described his aunt as the woman who gave him guidance when he needed it—a mother type. When things were difficult, Louise told him he could do greater things in his life. She turned his life around. She was the reason Bob went into social work and devoted his life to helping troubled youth. After he graduated from the U with degrees in psychology and social work, he served as director of the Utah Council on Criminal Justice Administration, worked for many years in the Utah Division of Corrections, and led Outward Bound outdoor leadership programs for youth. He was determined to help a new generation of kids make better choices. "Louise's actions helped my father, who in turn helped change other children's lives for the better," says Tracy.

What began as a quiet gesture to honor a cherished aunt now extends to the many students who will become part of the Andersen family legacy.


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