Berkeley businessman, husband of longtime councilwoman, drowns in Mexico

A swimming accident in Mexico has claimed the life of Berkeley businessman Rob Browning, the husband of former City Councilwoman Linda Maio, Berkeleyside reported.

Browning, 77, the owner of Talavera Ceramics on University Avenue, drowned Friday while swimming off Baja California, mayor’s aide Jacquelyn McCormick told the website. The couple were reportedly on a combined work and vacation trip to Mexico.

McCormick, an aide to Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín, said Browning was swimming in rough seas and could not make it back to shore.

Maio resigned from City Council in December after 27 years of service representing District 1 in northwest Berkeley.

The mayor issued the following statement about Browning:

“The city of Berkeley mourns the loss of Rob Browning, the husband of former Berkeley City Councilmember Linda Maio. Rob was a respected community member and small business owner, whose business Talavera Tile and Ceramics brought the art and color of Mexico into the homes of Berkeley residents.

“Rob was a dedicated partner to Linda and supported her during her many years of service to the Berkeley community. He will be dearly missed. Our heart goes out to our former colleague Linda and her family during this difficult time. We are here to support her.”

Browning founded a ceramics business at 1801 University Ave that imports tableware, garden goods, tiles, mirrors, metalwork, crafts and textiles from Mexico. But he was also something of a Renaissance man. He was involved in Berkeley activism in the 1960s and later pursued environmental causes. He formerly edited the Mark Twain Papers at UC Berkeley’s Bancroft Library.

His sister, Virginia Browning, told Berkleyside he “planted greenery and bloomery all over the neighborhood” and was a noted poet.

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