Dr. Richard C. Braun, a resident of Cumberland County for 36 years, died on Sunday, December 2. He had suffered an aortic dissection on Thanksgiving Day and been taken from his home in Pleasant Hill to Cumberland Medical Center, where he was treated for a week before being moved to Wharton Home in Pleasant Hill, where he died two days later. He was 82. He died the way he had lived: with grace, in love and in peace.
Richard Charles Braun was born in St. Louis, MO., in 1930, to T.C. and Viola Braun. He received a Bachelor of Science degree from Grinnell College in Iowa and a Doctor of Medicine degree from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. At Grinnell College he met Gertrude “Trudy” Camp, and at Washington University he and she strengthened their friendship while she earned her nursing degree. They married in 1953.
Two years later their first child, Kenneth, was born in Indianapolis, where Dr. Braun was fulfilling his medical internship. The following year Dr. and Mrs. Braun were commissioned as medical missionaries by the United Church Board for World Ministries, and in 1957, after six months of training at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in London, England, they and their young son arrived in the newly-independent African nation of Ghana.
In Ghana, Dr. and Mrs. Braun served together at hospitals in Worawora and Adidome. In addition to caring for patients at the hospitals and rural outreach clinics, they trained Ghanaian nurses and medical students, ensuring that their work would continue after they left Africa.
Dr. Braun was a founder of the ecumenical Church Hospital Association of Ghana, and for a time the chairman of its board of directors.
Dick and Trudy Braun’s second son, Nathan Kwame, was born in 1957, followed by Alan in 1959, both in Worawora. Daughter Lois was born in 1962 in Adidome.
In 1971 Dr. Braun, with his wife and children, came to Cumberland County for a two-year furlough. His parents had recently retired in Pleasant Hill, and he was drawn to this area by the reputation of the Cumberland Clinic Foundation, which he joined. Trudy Braun worked with the Tennessee Department of Health as a visiting nurse in the Upper Cumberland Region.
The Braun children attended public schools in Crossville, and the family attended the First Congregational Church of Crossville. Portraying Andrew Jackson in the Cumberland County Playhouse’s 1972 production of the musical “Tennessee U.S.A!” Dick Braun had the right look and the oratorical voice if not the accurate Old Hickory accent.
At the end of their furlough, Dr. and Mrs. Braun, with their younger three children, returned to Ghana for their last term there. In 1978 they left Ghana, having served the sick and healthy people of that country for a span of 21 years, and moved back to Cumberland County, this time to stay.
Dr. Braun resumed his work with the Cumberland Clinic Foundation, and Mrs. Braun hers with the Tennessee Dept. of Health. When the CCF closed in 1990, Dr. Braun began private family practice. He retired from private practice in 1993 but continued to volunteer his time and medical skill to people in under-served places, including Native American reservations in North Dakota and Arizona, the hurricane-wrecked coast of Honduras, and a remote town in the Himalayas of Nepal.
He remained on the staff of the Cumberland Medical Center and also accepted the position of Medical Director at Wharton Home in Pleasant Hill, the town where he and his wife made their home, continuing in that capacity until just last year. He was a Life Member of the American Academy of Family Physicians.
A lifelong advocate of health care as a human right, Dr. Braun served on the board of the Tennessee Health Care Campaign from 1994 to 1999 and was president of the board in 1998 and 1999.
He wrote frequently about health care issues in the Crossville Chronicle column “The Lion and the Lamb.” He received many awards and honors but was most proud when he met or heard news of any of the thousands of people he had delivered into the world.
Dick Braun was an ardent amateur musician who played flute and sang bass in various groups, including the Pleasant Hill Ensemble, the Cookeville Mastersingers and the Cumberland County Community Chorus. He was an active member of the Pleasant Hill Community Church and of Uplands Village.
He loved walking in the hills, meadows and woods of Tennessee and swimming in its creeks and lakes.
Richard C. Braun is survived by his brother, Theodore A. Braun, and his cousin, Marian Braun Ziebell, both of Pleasant Hill; his wife; his four children and their spouses; six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
His family suggests that those who wish to honor his life might make donations to the United Church of Christ Global Ministries (www.globalministries.org) or Uplands Village (www.uplandsvillage.com).