School 21

Paula Dean Browning

June 26, 1954 ~ August 26, 2020 (age 66)


Paula was born on June 26, 1954, in Texas, the second child of Pauline Browning. As a young girl, Paula moved with her family to California, where she quickly became active in school, sports, sign language, and beach culture. She always had a book in her hand. In her late teens, she began what would become a fulfilling lifelong career in American Sign Language (ASL) interpreting.

Soon after college, Paula moved to Los Angeles, where she continued her passion for ASL and Deaf culture. It was here in Los Angeles where she met her husband and had her two daughters, Anaiah and Johanna.

Paula worked at Cal State Northridge at The National Center on Deafness, and was actively involved in the Deaf arts at the Deaf West Theater. She was not only an exceptional interpreter, but a caring mentor, loving friend, and unstoppable advocate for Deaf rights. Paula’s talent and determination cemented her esteemed place in the Deaf community, and made her highly sought after across the country. She interpreted for countless local and national events – including the Democratic and Republican National Conventions – and even toured with Bob Dylan.

Paula was passionate about music, history, art, reading, her faith, and her family. She had a gregarious and strong personality, and was a lifelong proponent of ethics, intelligence, and feminism – traits she passed on to her daughters.

In 2003, Paula moved to Ocean Springs, Mississippi. While settling into her beloved beach life in a sleepy town, she continued interpreting throughout the South, and devoted her time to mentoring students and fellow interpreters. As she got older, Paula worked as an interpreter on cruise ships, which allowed her to finally visit parts of the world she had always wanted to see.

Although the last years of her life were met with significant health issues, Paula never lost her sense of humor or love of learning. On August 26, 2020, she passed peacefully in her sleep at the age of 66. Paula is survived by daughters Anaiah Shehori and Johanna Spencer, of Los Angeles, California; her mother, Pauline Browning, and two brothers, James and Alan Browning, all of Baytown, Texas, along with her numerous cousins, nieces and nephews, and of course, her cat Scamper.

To know Paula was to love and respect her. She would make you laugh, all while likely teaching you something in the process. Her life touched thousands of people, and if you met her, you never forgot her. Trinity Funeral Services is honored to serve the Browning family in their time of need, asking everyone to keep them in your thoughts and prayers over the coming days.

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