Frances Irene Brown Urner

1908 - 2002  

Frances Brown was born in College Place, Washington, the youngest of three daughters raised by their mother, Carrie, a grade school teacher. She graduated with a pianforte diploma from Walla Walla College, now University, in 1926, having studied piano with her sister Vivian and Grace Wood Reith, and violin with Victor Johnson.

The year following graduation she was hired to teach piano when her sister fell ill. When her sister recovered, they began playing duo-piano music and during the 1928-1929 school year, their last at WWC, enjoyed considerable success giving recitals together. They were among the first teachers to teach in the new Johnson Memorial Music Conservatory at WWC, which had opened in1928.

In 1929 Brown went to Vancouver, Washington, to teach at the Adventist school at Meadow Glade, now Columbia Adventist Academy. During her time there she taught Stanley Walker, a junior at the school, who would eventually chair the music department at WWC for fourteen years. While in that area, she studied piano for a year under Dent Mowrey, whom she would later recall as her best keyboard teacher.

At her mother's request, Brown reluctantly returned to College Place, where she taught piano at WWC for one year. During that year she married Milton Urner, an accomplished violinist, and at the end of the school year they moved to Lincoln, Nebraska.

Eventually, they moved to San Diego, where her sister lived. During that time they resumed playing together and became well known for their duo-piano recitals in the San Diego and Los Angeles areas. Urner was president of a music teachers association in San Diego for a two-year term in the 1950s. She proved especially effective and the organization was very active during her tenure.


Sources: Interview with Frances Irene Brown Urner, 9 August 1990 and letter from her, 16 August 1990; 1920 U.S. Federal Census; Faculty biographies in the 1920s WWC yearbooks; Social Security Records; 1920 U.S. Federal Census Records.