Ethel Carmen (Smith) Browning – Benton, IL

Benton, IL – Ethel Carmen (Smith) Browning, age 86, July 16, 1936 – November 17, 2022. Loving wife, mother, sister, grandmother, and friend peacefully passed away at 9:50 PM in Deaconess Midtown Hospital of Evansville, Indiana.

She was born to Fred and Ethel (Morgan) Smith, Benton, IL. She was raised by her grandmother, Pairnasy Missouri (McCurry) Morgan. She married Barney Kirby Browning on June 18, 1960, and they shared 62 wonderful years of marriage. He preceded her in death on October 10, 2022.

Carmen and her brother Gordon were raised by their grandmother in a home on 7th Street in Benton, purchased by her Uncles, John and Dewey Morgan. She attended Douglas School and Webster Jr. High in the 1940’s and Benton High School in the early 1950’s. During her high school years, little did she know at the time that her high school English teacher would later become her husband, Kirby.
Carmen was a giving and caring soul. She was kindhearted and gave love and support to her family and friends. She was a lover of animals as she raised and rescued many dogs, cats, and a groundhog named Woody. Carmen worked at Simmons’s Drug Store on the Benton square and Lampley Electronics in the 1950’s. She worked in the court house for her father-in-law, Barney Browning, when he was the Franklin County Sheriff in the early 1970’s. She transported ladies to dialysis treatments, delivered Meals on Wheels to the elderly, and taught many a child swimming lessons. She was a Christian, a Sunday school teacher, and she shared the love, beliefs, and devotion of God with her husband, children, grandchildren, family, and friends.

Carmen was a devoted wife, mother, and grandmother. Carmen had a love for Kirby that was so special. She would give him a funny look when he told his tall-tales and half-truths to make everybody laugh, but she always believed everything he said. Carmen met Kirby on the Benton square in 1959 while cruising with her friend. Carmen told her grandmother that she had a date with the sheriff’s son. Her grandmother told her that he would be a “good catch” and was so thrilled that she helped Carmen dress for her first date, which was watching the Browning pond being dug on the family farm. Carmen and Kirby were married the next year at the First Christian Church in Benton, IL and they shared 62 wonderful years of marriage together.

Carmen shared her love of swimming with her children, Bryan and Lisa, and they would often be found at the Browning family pond, on a hot summer day, enjoying floating on rafts and swimming and diving from the dock. She was always up on the latest fashions. She loved to shop and took pride in helping her granddaughter to develop the skill. Carmen enjoyed her time with her children and grandchildren, introducing them to 50’s and 60’s music by playing albums on the record player and by telling many a ghost story. Carmen loved listening to her talented son and grandsons play and sing music to her. She was so proud of her children and grandchildren for their successes, and she looked forward to their visits.

Carmen is survived by her son Bryan Browning; daughter Lisa (Browning) Brown; six grandchildren: Kelsea (Cory) Peacock, Jonathan (Ashley) Brown, Brandtlee Brown, Matthew Browning, Elissa Brown, Will Browning; one great granddaughter: Lily Pigg; four sister-in-laws: Mary Lou Shelton, Carolyn Upchurch, Sue (Jim) Wells, Becky Mandrell; two brothers-in-laws: Donald Browning, Joe (Evelyn) Browning; a special cousin: Faye (Morgan) Huffman (C.E.); and several nieces and nephews.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Kirby Browning; her parents, Fred and Ethel (Morgan) Smith; her grandmother, Pairnasy Missouri (McCurry) Morgan; two brothers: Joseph Windham, Fred Gordon Smith; three brother-in-laws: Kenneth Browning, Jack Shelton, Brad Mandrell; three sister-in-laws: Joyce Smith, Nancy Browning, Jean Browning.
She will be greatly missed by all her family and friends who benefited from her kind heart and giving soul. Her faith and love in God, Jesus Christ, and her family were her strength.

Visitation will be held from 11:00 AM-1:00 PM, Tuesday, November 22nd with funeral services following at 1:00 PM at First Christian Church, 302 S. Main Street, Benton, IL.

In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the First Christian Church, Benton, IL.
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