Generous donor to Haiyan victims dies at 83


A poster-size photo of Ellen B. Browne is flanked by her husband, William, (third from left); from left, Gawad Kalinga advocates Josie and John Disterhoff, William, Pita and Ross Rina and GK Chicago Chair Herminio de Guia Jr. PINOY/Anong Santos

CHICAGO–Ellen Burbach-Browne and her husband, William, of Evanston, Illinois, are known for their philanthropy, having given generously to efforts to build housing for victims of Typhoon Haiyan. Ellen Burbach-Browne, 83, died last April 22.

The Brownes’ donations were channeled through Gawad Kalinga (GK); at the time of Ellen’s passing, GK Advocate Josie Disterhoff said that the couple’s donation stood at more than $30,000. Disterhoff also said a community center at a GK Village in Tolosa, Leyte, will be named after her.


Several houses built for the victims of the 2013 super-typhoon Haiyan were made possible through the couple’s generous giving. Disterhoff and Ellen Browne were scheduled to visit the GK Village this month, but her cancer, which was diagnosed last October, spread rapidly leading to her passing late April. Ellen and William had been married for 47 years.

No fewer than 200 of her friends, relatives, fellow workers and acquaintances touched by her generosity gathered at the Three Crowne Park in Evanston on May 9 to celebrate her life. Six persons shared moving eulogies that gave an inspiring glimpse on the Brownes’ life of giving, compassion and care.


Also surviving her are her sisters Mary Schiellack and Anne Barg Costello (Robert). In lieu of flowers, her husband requested that donations be made to the Greater Chicago Food Depository ( or the Southern Poverty Law Center (

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TAGS: death of big donor to Haiyan victims, Ellen Burbach-Browne, Gawad Kalinga (GK), GK Village Tolosa Leyte, housing for the poor Philippines, philanthropy, Typhoon Haiyan
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