F. R. “Bob” Brownell II and his wife, Lois, from Montezuma, Iowa, often vacationed in the Branson area, staying at the Crow’s Nest Resort and spending their days fishing. These vacations were much needed breaks from running the family company that Mr. Brownell had created, Brownells, Inc., which is touted as the world's largest gunsmithing tools and firearms parts, accessories and specialty equipment supplier in the world. Through their connection to the Ozarks, Mr. and Mrs. Brownell became friends with both Ralph Foster and Dean Myers, who were established benefactors of the Ralph Foster Museum.
In 1977, wanting to find a way to help the Ralph Foster Museum in its mission and due to Lois’s love of libraries and the printed word, a trust was established to provide a research library for the Museum to utilize in researching artifacts in the collection. The Brownell’s generosity extended to a complete renovation of a large storage area, as well, becoming the Bob and Lois Brownell Research Center, which houses not only the library, but work areas, much needed office space for staff and upgraded storage. The trust they established continues to provide much needed research materials.
The Brownell Research Library houses more than 6,000 volumes and periodicals. While it is not a public lending library, College of the Ozarks students may check out books for use in class research papers. Appointments to use the Brownell Library for research purposes may be made during normal business hours by contacting the Museum Director.
Mr. Brownell passed away in 1991, and Mrs. Brownell passed away in 1998. Their son, F. R. “Frank” Brownell, III, continues the legacy established by his parents.