Vale Mrs Nancy Browning (McKellar 1936)

Past Student & Past Staff Member

Mrs Browning first met Sister Lois when teaching art at St John's Cathedral School in the late 1930s and early 1940s, which led her to a long career working with the Sisters of the Society of the Sacred Advent. Alternating between teaching at St Aidan's and St Margaret's until 1953, Mrs Browning taught St Aidan’s Senior students from her home in Chelmer, while pregnant with her first child, Kimberley (Browning 1971) and after her second child, Nicola (Browning 1973), was born Mrs Browning resumed teaching in 1957 and became a full-time St Aidan’s staff member in 1966. Mrs Browning remembered Sister Lois as 'terrific, very intelligent, a wonderful tennis player and full of fun', while she reminisced on her time as a St Aidan’s staff member with pride, 'A very happy teaching experience, a marvellous teaching team'. Both daughters, Kim and Nikki, attended St Aidan’s while Mrs Browning was still teaching.

Many past students remember Mrs Browning fondly, whether it be for her teaching or her love of animals. Coralie Burcher (1961) shared, 'St Aidan’s was like a family to me, but also gave us a well-rounded education. My intense interest in Art was encouraged. My Art teacher, Mrs Browning, gave me a remarkable grounding in the history of Art, I still have the exercise books with my reference notes!'

Mrs Browning's black Labrador, Rhino, was a feature of her years at St Aidan’s – famed for removing sandwiches intended for the Sisters' lunch and burying them. A roasted chicken, made by students for a staff lunch disappeared, with Rhino's involvement unproven – however, Mrs Browning went on the record for the St Aidan’s History Book sharing, ‘but I know where that chicken went’.

1981 Mrs Browning with Sisters and dog Chloe

1981 Mrs Browning with the Sisters and their dog Chloe

Many students have shared their memories of when the dog catcher would be in the neighbourhood and Mrs Browning would spread word among the girls, to bring the stray dogs to the Broads House where the art room was, next to a bathroom. The dogs would all be hidden in the bathroom until the coast was clear and it was safe to let them out again.

Her love of animals was not limited to dogs, when two stray horses wandered around Corinda, Mrs Browning took a rope to catch them and was surprised to see 'Sister Lois catching the other one'.

1973 Sister Julian, Sister X and student and Mrs Browning with horse and pony

Mrs Browning retired from teaching at St Aidan’s in 1983 at 65 years old. Miss Marjorie Neil, who was the headmistress at the time gave the following address at the 1983 Speech Night:

‘There are many Old Girls of the School who remember with appreciation the technical skill and appreciation of Art implanted in them by Mrs Browning… I express, I am sure, the wishes of all for a long and happy retirement. The trunk will be different without you, but you have given it strength.’

We are thankful for Mrs Browning’s commitment and dedication to the St Aidan’s community and offer our condolences to her family at this difficult time.

A memorial service will be held at 2pm Wednesday 16 February, at the Anglican Church of the Good Shepherd, Brookfield.