I read, with great sadness and a bit of loss, the obituary of Telitha Lindquist Greiner in the Standard-Examiner recently. (Click here.)
Sadness because I know her husband well. Jon Greiner was former Ogden Police Chief, a former Utah State Senator, and heck of a nice guy, now running Ogden’s Airport.
You hurt for a guy whose love dies far too young.
But loss, too, because Telitha seems to be one of the few people in Ogden I cannot remember ever interviewing, or even meeting, in my time at the local newspaper. After I read her obituary I knew I should have. Her list of accomplishments, involvements and organizations is very long, all intertwined in efforts to make my city a better place.
Telitha is the third woman in her family to bear that name and the fourth is her and Jon’s daughter. Her mother,Telitha Lindquist, was the wife of John Lindquist, of Lindquist Funeral Homes. Her grandmother, Telitha Browning, was the daughter of Matthew S. Browning, who is someone you should know, although he seems to have faded into the background.
So, Telitha Greiner’s lineage directly links her to one of the key founders of Ogden’s industrial base 100 years ago, one of the buildes of Ogden, a man who doesn’t get anywhere near the notice he should. She carried on his legacy, also quietly.
Quietly seems to be the watch-word here. Matthew was the guy who stood in the shadows while his brother, John M. Browning, got all the accolades as a gun inventor, but a lot of folks forget that it was Matthew’s business smarts that made the family gun business a success.
You can be the smartest inventor in the world — and John may well have been — but if the bills don’t get paid, the profits don’t get invested, your genius is lost. Matthew made sure the bills got paid.
The Lindquist family has a lovely web site on Matthew (click here!) but here are some highlights:
In 1879 Matthew and John bought their father’s gun shop, setting up Browning Brothers Company and the J.M. and M.S. Browning Arms company.
While John stayed in the shop, inventing guns, Matthew S. used the extensive revenue generated by the gun business to branch out. The brothers were involved with the Bar B. Ranch,which ran thousands of head of cattle. They formed the Utah State Bank, with Matthew as president. He later merged with the Eccles family to form First Security Bank, now owned by Wells Fargo.
The list of other businesses he was involved in is extensive: Railroads, rapid transit companies, banks and industries too numerous to mention. There was even a Browning Brothers Overland Automobile Dealership (which is a foreshadowing of the Browning-Kimball Car Museum here at Union Station.)
Matthew didn’t just sit around and count his and John’s money. He spent his own time in the gun shop, getting his name on 25 patents along with John. But as the family web site makes clear, he also worked hard to build his community.
“Matthew’s political and civic involvements included two years as mayor of Ogden in 1900 and 1901; he served as president of the Weber Club, a member of the Ogden Chamber of Commerce, and president of the city school board. In 1912, Matthew served at the request of the governor on a committee to design and fund the Utah State Capital building. He was also asked to run for governor of Utah but declined because Mary Ann didn’t want to move to Salt Lake City.”
He was even involved with the volunteer fire department.
Matthew S. Browning died of a heart attack on June 29, 1923, collapsing in his office in the Eccles Building. His funeral was attended by the president of the LDS Church, the governor of the state of Utah, the previous governor of the state of Utah, and seven former or current mayors of Ogden.
People knew they’d lost a huge contributor to the community. This week we’ve lost another, but our community is better because of their work.