William Melville Browning

December 20, 2018

On December 20, 2018, William Melville Browning, beloved son and brother, passed suddenly at the age of 37.  Will was born in Charlotte, NC on October 8, 1981 to Mel and Georgia Browning.  He grew up attending Providence Baptist Church, a source of many close friends and mentors over the years.  As a child and teen, Will excelled in soccer and baseball and was a top student. His academic strength was rooted in a quest for knowledge.  Will had an inquisitive, agile mind and a lightning fast wit. He could make others laugh in the most unexpected ways.

Will earned degrees in political science and economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  He combined his analytical skills and artful craftsmanship to build his own business, Browning Painting & Restoration.  He took great pride in restoring historic homes and in helping his clients with tasks small and large.

Helping people was at the core of everything Will did.  He had a passion for justice and for fighting for the underdog.  He bestowed so much empathy and grace on others, while not always allowing the same for himself. Will was an avid reader, learner, and seeker.  His interests ranged from history and theology to literature and statistics.

Intense workouts were a welcome challenge to Will, and he was noted for his strength.  He had a great love for the outdoors, always finding solace in the woods and fields of his family’s farms. Hunting, fishing, and hiking were favorite activities, as were long walks in the woods with his dog, Lucy.

Will was preceded in death by grandparents, William Floyd and Eva Griffin and grandfather Elmer Browning.  He is survived by his parents, Mel and Georgia Browning, his sister and brother-in-law Ashlynn and Ray Greene, nephews Thomas and Henry Greene, grandmother Ruth Smith, and many extended family and friends who loved him dearly.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, January 5, 2019 at 11:00 AM at Providence Baptist Church, 4921 Randolph Rd. Reception to follow in the fellowship hall.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Habitat for Humanity, 3815 Latrobe Drive, Charlotte, NC 28211 or Crisis Assistance Ministry, 500-A Spratt Street, Charlotte, NC 28206.


Share your memories & condolences


  • Linda & Ronny Davis

    Mel & Georgia, I imagine there is no pain more far reaching and deeper than losing a child. Our hearts and prayers go out to you at this most difficult time.
    Linda & Ronny Davis

  • Bill and Marilyn Taylor

    Marilyn and I are so very sadden to hear of Will's passing. We remember Will and Ashlynn along with our children at Providence Baptist. With my connection as family friends (our parents), childhood friends (Georgia), college classmates (Mel), and then members at Providence Baptist, you are both always in our hearts and prayers, and especially in these difficult times. Blessings and Peace.

  • Frances Primm

    Georgia, Mel, and Ashlyn,

    So sorry for the loss of your precious Will.
    Prayers and love ❤️
    Brodie and Frances Primm

  • Susan Trent

    I am so sorry to hear of the passing of Will. I taught him in 6th grade, and he was a true joy to have as a student. He was very intelligent, and creative, and was fun in the classroom. I always thought he would have a career someday in the artistic area. To his mother, father, and sister, please accept my sincere condolences, and I am so sorry for your loss.

  • Lara Gardner

    Georgia, Mel, Ashlynn, Ray and boys. Will had such a beautiful soul. I am so grateful to have known him. I am sending love and peace your way (and his).


  • Scottie Stamper

    Having been a minister at Providence Baptist Church in the 90s, I'd known Will since he was a Middle Schooler. Our friendship, though, came later--Will was several years out of college when he and I reconnected. Over dinners at Salsa's (now Cabos), at Charlotte Knight baseball games, on walks on the greenway, or just hanging out on a deck or porch, our conversations were often about literature, theology, eschatology, philosophy, culture, or social justice issues. He was, without a doubt, the smartest person I have ever met. I've been thinking about what his reading list must have been. He would send texts to me, telling me to read something by theologian Frederick Buechner or by Flannery O'Connor. He could quote Walt Whitman or William Shakespeare. Will's reflections about what he was reading were so in-depth and beautiful that I could not wait to read it for myself. His quick wit was sometimes surprising and always on target.

    Will will always hold a special place in my heart. Through his wit and wisdom, I learned more about myself and about the human condition. Will taught me to pay attention . . . to really pay attention to systems, power structures, and peoples' motivations and search for purpose. Will's purpose for his too-short time on this planet seemed to be . . . to walk humbly with God, to care for people who are often left out, and to give sacrificially.

    My prayers and loving thoughts are with Georgia, Mel, and Ashlynn--today and in the days to come.

  • Jeffrey Pearce

    I was very sorry to hear about Will's passing. I knew Will from his love of hunting and I was a classmate of Georgia's in Louisburg.

  • Ashlynn Browning

    I was privileged to be Will's sister. He was about the smartest and funniest person I've ever known. Truly no one was like him. He had so many gifts and talents, but they were weighted by a darker side that made his life much harder than it should have been. We all would've done anything to make that burden lighter. As big sister, I often put myself in the role of trying to "fix" things and help Will. I never wanted to change him, only lift the darkness so that his incredible gifts could shine. But far beyond that role, I just loved being with him. Listening to his opinions, his amazing intellect, and his incredible wit and humor. He could mimic anyone on earth and it was so hilarious. Will only opened up to people if he thought they would get him. I was so lucky to be included for most of my life in that inner circle and to witness his burning bright self.

  • Amy Tucker

    Will was always such a special friend and wonderful person with a huge heart. I loved spending time with him at PBC and on mission trips and in youth group. my heart is broken for your family!! My thoughts and prayers are with you all. ?

  • Sharon Isley

    I remember Will fondly. During my years at Providence Baptist Will was always doing various jobs around the church. He would come by my office on the 2nd floor and share his wisdom. The Unidiversity trips during his teen years were filled with his shy and dry humor. He will be missed. God bless you Will.

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