Andrew Browder

Andrew Browder died at his home in Providence, R.I. on March 24, 2019.

Andy Browder was born in Moscow, the son of Raissa Borisovna Berkmann of St. Petersburg, Russia, and Earl Russell Browder of Wichita, Kansas. Earl was a trade union organizer and activist in the Communist Party and the Communist International.  In 1933, soon after Earl became the General Secretary of the Communist Party USA, Andy came to the United States with his mother and brother Felix, where his brother William was born.  The family lived in Yonkers, New York.  During Andy’s childhood, his father ran for president on the Communist ticket against Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1936 and 1940.  Earl was thrown out of the CPUSA leadership in 1945, and expelled from the party soon afterward.

A gifted mathematician, Andrew Browder attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in 1953 and a Ph.D. in 1961. His education was interrupted by service in the Army, from 1954 to 1955.

He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Anna Lee Browder, three daughters: Sally Browder of Glendale, California, Laura Browder of Richmond, Virginia, and Dorothea Browder of Bowling Green, Kentucky; and four grandchildren, Nina and Leo Browder Rosenbaum, Grace Lee Browder Anderson, and Graham Browder-Seguin.

Andrew spent most of his life teaching mathematics at Brown University, with a speciality in functional analysis, beginning in 1960. In 1963 he was awarded a two year Miller Fellowship at the University of California, Berkeley, returning to Brown as a professor, where he spent the rest of his career, save for two years spent at the Mathematical Institute in Aarhus, Denmark in the early 1970s. He retired in 1998. His books include Introduction to Function Algebras (W. A. Benjamin, 1969) and Mathematical Analysis: An Introduction (Springer, 1996). In addition, he published a number of papers. He leaves behind several former students who considered him like family.

While attending Yonkers High School, he played the clarinet with the Yonkers Philharmonic Orchestra. One summer, he played with an Italian street band at Italian festivals in New York City neighborhoods, performing local favorites but refusing to play the Italian Fascist anthem, saying he didn’t know the music. He took a dozen lessons, (all he could afford), from Simeon Bellison, Principal Clarinet of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.

In 1981 he successfully completed a marathon in Rhode Island.

He was an avid photographer for decades, focusing especially on the structural beauty of both industrial and natural subjects (he had an especial affection for trees), as well as documenting family and friends, and taking great pleasure in the darkroom processes.

Andrew Browder maintained a vivid curiosity throughout his life, was extraordinarily widely read in a range of areas, and seemed to remember everything he read.

After retirement, he turned his energies to writing poetry, taking courses on writing poetry, joining a local group of fellow poets, The Loft, and composing several dozen beautiful and powerful poems.


Lament For Seamus Heaney

His squat pen moves no longer.

Even as the summer ends so dies our warmth

and we are now bereft who idly thought that

never would we be without that voice that

elevated us to a higher ground and

yoked us to a greater freedom.

It can’t be true, it just won’t do, that those

songs that so long sustained us are newly

gathered and complete and are now to be

owned only by strangers. Don’t just write

noli timere as if we could not understand that

every song and every man must have an end.

                                                   Andrew Browder
                                                  8 September 2013


He was laid to rest in a green burial at the Ellipse at historic Swan Point Cemetery in Providence, R.I., where he spent many happy hours running and taking photographs.  A memorial service will be held on Monday, June 17, 2019  at 11:00 A.M. in the Hope & Memory Chapel, Swan Point Cemetery, Providence, RI.

Donations in his memory may be made to Human Rights Watch, Oxfam, or Partners In Health.


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