Bernard Lawrence Braun
May 28, 1925 – November 6, 2018
Bernard Lawrence (Bernie) Braun, a longtime resident of Cherry Valley and devoted husband and father, died on November 6, 2018, at the age of 93. He is survived by his wife of 64 years, Joanne Dorothy Braun, nee Thiele; four children, Lawrence, Gerard, Gregory, and Mary; and seven grandchildren, Emma Braun, Noah Braun, Aidan Coyne, August Perry, Rory Coyne, Alana Braun, and Leia Braun. Bernie grew up in a big family and surrounded himself with family throughout his life. The eighth child of Michael Philip Braun, a tile setter, and Catherine Mary Braun, nee Dillenburg, he was preceded in death by his nine siblings: Catherine, Josephine, Mary, Frances, Agnes, Leo, Joseph, Robert, and James. They grew up, many to a room, in what is now downtown Los Angeles and later moved a few miles away to Highland Park. World War II scattered them into different branches of the service – Bernie was a mechanic in the Army Air Corps and stationed on Okinawa – but they all returned safely. In retirement, he and Joanne moved to Riverside County largely to be closer to their siblings. He attended (and sent his children to) Catholic schools and was active in the Church his entire life, serving as an usher, a scripture reader, a choir member, and a Eucharistic minister. He was most recently a member of Kateri Tekakwitha Catholic Church in Beaumont. He had a rich singing voice, developed as a member of the Roger Wagner boys choir, and relished any opportunity to sing, from church hymns to chorale performances as a silver-haired member of the Cherry Valleyaires to a pitch-perfect “Take Me Out to the Ballgame." (He and his son Larry attended Sandy Koufax’s perfect game in 1965.) Bernie never went on family vacations as a child, but he and Joanne planned ambitious camping trips for their own children, covering most of the Western United States in a tent trailer, and then bought a vacation home for boating and water skiing on the Colorado River. Bernie was not a Boy Scout, but when his sons joined up, he became Scoutmaster for Troop 167 at St. Luke’s Catholic Church in Temple City, Calif., leading the boys on monthly backpacking campouts, and longer treks in the High Sierra and on river by canoe. The experience transformed him and he became an avid hiker, scaling Mt. Whitney and exploring the floor of the Grand Canyon. Always fit and flat-stomached, he spent his weekday lunch hours swimming laps. He seemingly subsisted on tuna salad for lunch for more than a dozen years, and no dinner was complete that did not have two vegetable dishes. Though never trained as one, Bernie had an engineer’s mind that he applied to daily life in ways that revealed a quiet love for precision and function, and for divining order from chaos. He designed his own workbenches and sometimes his own tools, and could fix or build anything. He curated the photos he took on family vacations, kept hole-by-hole notes on the out-of-town golf courses he played, and organized his garage and planned trips with military exactness. He was a gifted woodworker, and he taught himself to use a computer while in his 80s. He was employed as a sales engineer for more than 35 years by Westlectric Castings, a City of Commerce steel foundry, and as the job title indicates, he often engineered the unique steel products that his industrial clients needed. Bernie was very much at home on the foundry floor. Nothing pleased him more than being with his lifelong partner, whom he first saw in 1953 at the wedding of mutual friends. Bernie was a groomsman, and Joanne, who met the bride in nurses’ training, was maid of honor. They struck up a conversation over drinks and a week later he called to ask her out. Bernie planned their first date around a Pasadena Athletic Club bowling tournament where, if they took tickets at the door, they could get a free dinner. As his financial situation improved, he proposed marriage, she accepted, and they wed in July 1954. From that day until now they were rarely apart. Private services are pending.
- Memorial Mass Friday, November 23, 2018