Service set for J. B. Browne, banker

January 01, 1991

A memorial service for Joseph B. Browne, former president and chairman of the board of the Union Trust Co. of Maryland and a Baltimore civic leader, will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday at Old Trinity Church in Church Creek, in Dorchester County.

Mr. Browne died Sunday in Easton after a brief illness. He was 83.

In a career at Union Trust that spanned more than 50 years, Mr. Browne advanced from a member of the audit department to head the bank during the 1960s, when it was the third largest bank in Baltimore. It was acquired by Signet Bank in 1986.

J. Stevenson Peck, a colleague and friend who succeeded Mr. Browne as chairman of the board of Union Trust, yesterday praised Mr. Browne's "tremendous capacity to look ahead and instill hopes for the future in younger people."

Dedicated to both his bank and his city, Mr. Browne served the latter as president of the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Baltimore and was a director or trustee of many business, civic and other organizations, including the Baltimore Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America, the Committee for Downtown, the Baltimore Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, the Baltimore Gas and Electric Co., South Baltimore General Hospital (now Harbor Hospital Center) and the American Red Cross.

Born in Baltimore in 1907, he was a graduate of City College and the Johns Hopkins University's McCoy College. His banking career could be said to have started when he was 11, when he served as a page boy at the Mercantile Trust Co. during the influenza epidemic of 1918. In the 1920s he worked part time and full time at the Savings Bank of Baltimore before joining Union Trust in 1928.

There he worked in many of the operating divisions and was a branch manager and member of the trust department before entering the Army Air Forces as a first lieutenant in 1942. During World War II he flew combat missions in Europe, was decorated with the Air Medal and the Bronze Star. He was discharged as a reserve colonel in 1946.

Returning to Union Trust, he became a vice president in 1947, was appointed operations officer in 1952 and became president in January 1959. Ten years later he was elected chairman of the board and chief executive officer of the bank, a position he held until 1972. He remained a member of the Union Trust board until 1982.

An avid hunter, he lived his later years at his farm on Taylors Island in Dorchester County with his wife, Elizabeth Sisk Browne, a longtime devotee of the arts and former chairman of the Women's Committee of the Walters Art Gallery.

Mr. Browne was a member of the Maryland Club, the Merchants Club, the Greenspring Valley Hunt Club and the Center Club.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Browne is survived by her two daughters, Elizabeth Ullrich Slanker of Pasadena and Hazel Ullrich van Wijnen of Corte Madera, Calif.; and three stepgrandchildren.

The family suggested donations to the organ fund of Old Trinity Church.

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