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Complications from pneumonia claim life of ELPAC founder

Judy Browne, the founder of the East Lincoln Political Action Committee (ELPAC), knew the results of the run-off election between county commissioner Carrol Mitchem and opponent Bruce Carlton Tuesday night.
According to family friend Ray Holmes, she was elated as founder of ELPAC at the results.
The next morning, her husband and East Lincoln Betterment Association (ELBA) president Peter Browne discovered the 63-year-old mother of two had died from complications of pneumonia.
Family and friends gathered Saturday morning at Unity Presbyterian Church in Denver to remember Browne as someone who was passionate about changing her community for the better and as someone who had respect for all.
According to family friend and ELBA member Jack LaPointe, the Brownes recently returned from a trip to Europe.
“Both Peter and Judy became ill with colds,” said LaPointe. “Peter got better but Judy got steadily worse.”
LaPointe remembered meeting the Brownes after he came to eastern Lincoln County at the end of 2000.
“I was feeling my way around, getting to know people,” said LaPointe. “When I started looking into politics, I found Judy.”
LaPointe said that Browne, as founder and leader of ELPAC, worked to build awareness about East Lincoln and got the area the attention LaPointe felt the area deserved.
He added ELPAC will always be remembered as Judy’s invention.
Denver resident Ray Holmes eulogized Browne as a good friend, co-conspirator and community activist.
He met Browne at the founding meeting of ELPAC.
“She impacted change in how East Lincoln views itself,” said Holmes. “Judy stepped up to the plate to be a lightning rod for the eastern part of the county.”
He added that Browne was generous with her time and experience towards bettering all of Lincoln County, not just the Denver area.
Family friend Jeri Nutting said via email that helping Lincoln County find and elect responsible leaders was foremost in Browne’s mind.
“As the first chairperson of ELPAC, Judy’s leadership helped carry the organization through the 2004 election and beyond, tackling several important local issues.”
Nutting added that Browne’s leadership style was non-confrontational, where Browne always kept level-headed.
“She listened, advised and commented in thoughtful ways,” Nutting emphasized. “On a personal level, Judy was cheerful, kind and empathetic to the feelings of others.”
According to Peter Browne’s brother, Jeff, Peter and Judy Browne were married for 42 years.
Jeff Browne remembered his sister-in-law as someone who had a thirst for knowledge and the desire to rehabilitate things.
“Her favorite television channels were The History Channel and Fox News,” he said. “She also wanted to change things she thought were wrong.”
He added the only time Browne couldn’t rehabilitate anything was when the couple moved to Denver.
“She couldn’t re-architect anything in their new house,” said Browne. “She didn’t have anything to do.”
The Rev. Morrie Lawing of Denver Presbyterian Church eulogized Browne a woman of many passions.
“She was a passionate, voracious reader because of her curiosity,” said Lawing. “I was told that towards the end of her life, her eyesight began dwindling. That’s when she turned to television.”
Lawing echoed Jeff Browne’s sentiment that Judy Browne had a passion for change and wanted to see change for the better.
“That’s why she volunteered for the American Red Cross,” said Lawing. “She was also known at her workplace for cleaning things up and solving problems.”
Lawing added passion was also the driving force for change in the community.
According to Lawing, while the couple lived in Elgin, Ind., Browne ran for mayor.
“She longed to see the place she lived in to be a better place to live,” Lawing emphasized. “We find comfort as friends and family to remember the life of Judy Browne,” said Lawing.
Denver resident Connie Zmijewski remembered Browne as someone who laid the groundwork for the East Lincoln political movement, “wanting to improve the quality of life in eastern Lincoln County.”.
Lincoln County Planning Board member George Arena echoed Zmijewski’s sentiment.
“I am inspired by her because she had the desire to do the right thing because she tended to forget about east versus west Lincoln,” said Arena. “She would always say the county is diverse and we need the best representation possible.”
Browne’s sister, Deb Casey, remembered her sister as a seeker, organizer and activist.
“Her spirit walks among us,” said Casey. “There is no past tense to my sister, Judy.”
by Jon Mayhew

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