By Jean Clark
Dr. Richard Braun, or “Dick” as most of us knew him, had been an integral part of Cumberland County for 35 years until his untimely death in early December. Truly a Renaissance man, he was accomplished in medicine, music, literature and an advocate for health care and social justice. To honor his life of commitment to others, there will be a concert Saturday at 3 p.m. in the Pleasant Hill Community Church, United Church of Christ sanctuary. The Pleasant Hill Ensemble, the Cumberland County Chorus, flutist Aaron Neeley and pianist Emily Byrens will present an eclectic combination of music. The concert is free, but an offering will be taken to benefit Hospice of Cumberland County and the United Church of Christ Global Ministries.
Dick Braun played the flute in the Cumberland County Band as well as the Pleasant Hill Ensemble, of which he was one of the founding members in 1992. The Instrumental Ensemble is under the direction of leader Bob Savage, who also plays the trumpet. They will entertain with a wide variety of music, ranging from Dixieland to spirituals, marches and novelty numbers. Braun was also a member of the Flute Consortium. Aaron Neely will honor Dick’s memory playing his flute during the concert, accompanied by Emily Byrens, co-music director of the Pleasant Hill Community Church. Dick was a member of the Community Church Choir right up to the time of his death. In addition to the bands and church choir, Dick sang bass with the Master Singers in Cookeville and the Cumberland County Chorus from its inception. Director Marty Gibson will lead the Community Chorus in renditions of “I will Sing With the Spirit," "An American Tribute," "Hallelujah, Amen" from "Judas Maccabaeus," "Someone’s Knocking” and “The Lord Bless You and Keep You.” There may be other songs included as well.
Finding time to develop his musical interests must have been difficult for Dr. Dick Braun along with his full-time medical career. In 1956, Dr. Braun and his nurse wife, Trudy, were commissioned as medical missionaries by the United Church Board for World Ministries and sent to the newly independent nation of Ghana in Africa. In addition to caring for patients at hospitals and rural outreach clinics, they trained Ghanaian nurses and medical students, ensuring that their work would continue after they left Africa. In 1978, the Braun family left Ghana, moving to Cumberland County where Dr. Braun joined the Cumberland Clinic Foundation. When the CCF closed in 1990, he began private practice in Crossville.
He retired in 1993, moving to Uplands Village in Pleasant Hill, but continued to volunteer his time and medical skills for people in underserved places. These included Native American Reservations in North Dakota and Arizona, the hurricane-wrecked coast of Honduras, and a remote town in the Himalayas of Nepal. Dr. Braun remained on the staff of the Cumberland Medical Center and also accepted the position of the medical director at Wharton Homes in Pleasant Hill until just last year. He wrote frequently about health care issues in the Crossville Chronicle column, “The Lion and the Lamb.” He served on the Tennessee Health Care Campaign, becoming president in 1998 and 1999. Dr. Dick Braun received many awards and honors, but was most proud when he met or heard about any of the thousands of people he had delivered into the world.
Dick Braun’s wife, four children, spouses, grandchildren and great-grandchildren have planned a memorial service for Saturday morning at 10 a.m. in the PH Community Church as well as sponsoring the benefit concert at 3 p.m. in the same venue.