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Hon. Olin L. Browder. The office of chief executive in any community is a responsible one and the individual occupying it has resting upon his shoulders not only the numerous details of the management of a city, but also the accountability for its financial, commercial and moral integrity. In many cases, as he is so is his community, for it soon reflects his character and manner of dealing with large problems, and unless he keeps a firm grip upon the reins of government and forces his associates and fellow officials to act as he believes is right and just his administration soon shows the effect of lax methods and unprogressive principles, and the community retrogresses. For this reason, of late years many of the more progressive cities have chosen for their chief executives individuals from the ranks of the solid business and professional men, for they have recognized the effect of example and action and know that one who has accomplished much in a financial or professional way is very apt to possess the qualities that make for successful handling of a city’s governmental problems. An example of such a choice and of its beneficent nature is found at Urbana, the county seat of Champaign County, where Olin L. Browder, one of the county’s most successful lawyers, filled ably for two terms the mayoralty chair. His term as mayor expired May 1, 1917.
Mr. Browder was born in Hamilton County, Illinois, September 4, 1879, and is a son of William A. and Harriet A. (Henry) Browder, natives of Washington County, Illinois. Mr. Browder’s father has been for over fifty years a minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church, with charges in various parts of Illinois, and in 1910 located at Urbana, where he now makes his home, as does Mrs. Browder. They were the parents of two children: Olin L., and a daughter, Ethel, who died in childhood.
The boyhood of O. L. Browder was passed in various parts of Illinois, as his father’s vocation kept him moving from one territory to another, but the greater part of his early education was secured at Mount Vernon, Jefferson County. In order to secure more than a graded school course he worked his way through the high school at Mount Vernon, from which he was duly graduated, and in 1899 entered the University of Illinois. Here he again showed his independence, ambition and resource by paying his university tuition fees and paying for his board and lodging by working at whatever honorable occupation he could find, and in this way secured his degree of Bachelor of Arts. Still he was not satisfied, for his ambition was set upon a career in the law, and after several years he once again became a student at the University, from the legal department of which he was graduated as a member of the class of 1906, bearing with him his coveted degree of Bachelor of Laws. At that time Mr. Browder took up his residence and opened an office at Urbana, and here he has continued in the enjoyment of a constantly increasing practice, interrupted only by the demands of his official positions. Almost immediately upon his arrival he was appointed corporation counsel, an office in which he served under two mayors, following which he acted as alderman for two years. By this time the people of Urbana had become sufficiently acquainted with the hustling young lawyer and his methods to recognize that he would make an excellent man in the mayor’s office, and accordingly, in 1913, they sent him to that position. His handling of the weighty matters that came up for consideration during his first term proved so satisfactory that in 1915 he was given the reelection, and continued as one of the best mayors the city of Urbana has ever known. He is a Republican in his political views, affiliates with the Knights of Pythias, and is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, the movements of which he supports liberally. As a lawyer he is astute, shrewd and thoroughly versed in all departments of his profession, a stickler for ethics and a courteous opponent and valued associate. He represents the new and hustling element that has arisen in late years to add to the progress of Champaign County.
Mr. Browder married at Urbana June 29, 1905, Miss Nellie S. Taylor, who was born in this county. They have been the parents of three children: Sheldon, who was born in 1908 and died in 1912; Olin L., Jr., born in December, 1913; and William B., born September 6, 1916.