In Memorium

In Memorium 2018-06-21T10:14:06+00:00

R. Stephen “Steve” Browning

(1940 – 2018)

It is with great sadness that we announce and mourn the death of one of our founders, Steve Browning.  Steve was not only instrumental in the formation and growth of the firm, but also a friend, mentor, trusted advisor, and tireless supporter of a many local community foundations.

The following is the text of Steve’s obituary:


R. Stephen (Steve) Browning

Steve Browning was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, on September 13, 1940, to James S. and Kathryn (Stanley) Browning. He graduated from North Central High School in 1958 and received degrees in Chemistry and Law from Indiana University and a degree in City Planning from Harvard University.

In 1970 he and his wife, Judy, moved to Washington, D.C. where he worked as a staff attorney for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights. In 1975 he became staff counsel for the U.S. Senate Budget Committee, and later became Chief of Staff for Montana U.S. Senator Max Baucus, a position he held for nearly eight years.

In 1982 he and partner Stan Kaleczyc started a law firm in Helena, Montana, which later became known as Browning, Kaleczyc, Berry, and Hoven. The two-man firm grew to include nineteen partners with offices in Helena, Missoula, Bozeman, and Great Falls, Montana.

Steve served on various Montana governmental boards, including the Montana State Board of Science & Technology, the Montana Historical Society, the Montana Power Authority, and the Governor’s Task Force on Endowed Philanthropy. He found great personal satisfaction in working with the nonprofit sector, especially in the areas of charitable development and the fostering and expansion of permanent endowments.

He helped to develop the Montana Community Foundation and was unrelenting in donating and requesting contributions essential to form a number of local community foundations in Montana. He created and funded endowments for the Myrna Loy Center, the American Indian Institute, as well as the Helena Area Community Foundation, which started as a group of just a few volunteers and is currently in a campaign to carry its total endowment past the $1 million mark.

He was instrumental in the passage of the Montana Endowment Tax Credit and the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Trust. His belief that a community is judged largely by its support for the arts prompted him to join with Arnie Molina, to turn the vacant century-old Lewis & Clark County Jail into the Myrna Loy Center for the Arts.

Steve had a full life with many facets, including politics, hiking, dogs, the Indy 500 (name a year, and he could tell you the winning driver and car), college hoops (Indiana University and the University of Arizona in particular), and golf. He learned golf from his father, who instilled in him an appreciation for the finer points beyond just playing the game well.

As an adult he followed his dad’s example, teaching dozens of kids over the years. His was practical instruction – club selection, reading greens, rules and etiquette. But the most important lesson was that golf is a game. The rules are logical and must be respected; it is shared among friends, which gives it meaning; above all, it is meant to provide happiness. Steve’s love of golf led him to move to Tucson, Arizona, in 2000, where he died on May 15, 2018, after a long struggle with pulmonary fibrosis.

Family survivors include his wife, Judy (Whiteleather), sister, Sue Morehead of Weiser, Idaho, sister-in-law Jill Littlejohn (Jim) of Tucson, Arizona, and brother-in-law John Whiteleather (Judy) of Columbia City, Indiana. He is also survived by several nieces and nephews and his beloved dog, Frankie. A celebration of Steve’s life will be held at a later date.


Also, please take some time to learn more about Steve in these recent news articles and links from various sources around Montana:

Article in Missoulian by Dale Woolhiser about Steve’s memory and his impact on Montana.

Helena Area Community Foundation, which owes its’ start to Steve.

A recent article in Helena’s Independent Record recalls the beginnings of the Myrna Loy Center, which Steve was instrumental in creating.

An article in the Independent Record from a few years ago highlights Steve’s impact on Montana and the Myrna Loy Center.

An interview on Home Ground Radio put on by MTPR between interviewer Brian Kahn and Steve on topics of high-level politics, law, and philanthropy.