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Will O. Brownell, PhD

October 31, 1943 — February 20, 2023

Will O. Brownell, PhD


William O. Brownell, PhD, age 79, formerly of Medina and New York City, entered rest on February 20, 2023. 


Born October 31, 1943, in Buffalo, he was a son of the late Abbott F. and Louise (O’Donnell) Brownell. He graduated from Fay School, Class of 1958, where he had been a trustee, and Phillips Exeter Academy, Class of 1962.


An international scholar with both military and academic experience, Dr. Brownell served in Vietnam with the U.S. Army from 1966-68 as a translator/interpreter. He earned a BA from Cornell University and later obtained a Doctorate in International Affairs at Columbia University in New York City under Roger Hilsman, President Kennedy's Undersecretary of State for Asia.


Dr. Brownell studied in Europe for several years and earned awards as a French literary translator. He was the author of the book So Close to Greatness: The Biography of William C. Bullitt (1988). He co-authored the book The First Nazi: Erich Ludendorff, The Man Who Made Hitler Possible (2016) with Denise Drace-Brownell.


Considered by his colleagues and students to have a powerful mind with a capacity to quickly understand a wide range of complicated concepts, Dr. Brownell was a beloved teacher, academic contributor, and mentor. He shared a passion with Denise Drace-Brownell, his wife and longtime companion for their work in binocular vision disorder and climate change.


In addition to his parents, he was predeceased by his brother, Abbott Brownell, Jr. 


Survivors include his sister, Teresa “Terri” Brownell of St. Petersburg, FL; brother, George Brownell of Medina; and several other extended family members. 


Funeral services will be held privately. Arrangements are in the care of Cooper Funeral Home, 215 W. Center St., Medina.
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