a tribute

Area firefighters turn out to pay last respects to a legendary supporter

By Lance Shearer

The announcement of Richard and Dorothy Braun’s 65th wedding anniversary appeared in the Marco Eagle, chronicling the love of two people who spent a lifetime together. But Dorothy Braun, stricken by an undetected case of acute leukemia, didn’t live to see the anniversary, carried away just four days after entering Naples Community Hospital.

“She was deceased before we knew the cause,” said Richard “Dick” Braun. “We had no indication — the doctor had told her to ‘see me next spring.’ We took her to the hospital on Tuesday (Aug. 4), and she passed away on the 8th.” The couple’s anniversary came on Aug. 12, just one day after a memorial service was held for Dorothy on Marco Island. Her funeral took place Aug. 13 in Adrian, Mich.

“All our family except one grandson were able to get here to see her, even though it was just the day before that we knew,” he said and stressed the importance of bring families together, in such circumstances.

Dorothy was deeply involved with her husband in the Marco Island Fire Rescue Foundation. In 2007, Dick was the founding president of the organization, which is dedicated to helping take care of Marco’s firefighters.

“We had 35 firefighters at Dorothy’s memorial service here, like an honor guard. They hung a flag on one of the city’s pumpers,” said Dick.

“Dorothy was tremendous, a fond supporter of the firefighters,” said Marco Island Fire-Rescue deputy chief Chris Byrne. “Her greatest gift to the foundation was all the time she shared, with Dick and all of us, putting the group together. They are a wonderful, caring and giving family.” The flag-adorned fire truck, he added, is a traditional ceremony firefighters perform to honor those who were significantly involved with their department.

Dick has had experience dealing with end-of-life issues, as a longtime funeral-home owner and past president of the National Funeral Directors Association.

“You’d be amazed at the mail that’s coming in,” he said. “I’ve got a thick stack of cards from funeral directors all over the U.S.” Dorothy got to know all Dick’s colleagues in the association, traveling the country with him on behalf of the funeral directors’ organization. “She was with me when I had the honor of placing a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery, and when I received a flag flown over the Capitol.

“Her loves were boating and sewing. She was a seamstress first class. She made all the kids’ clothes, including the boys’ sport coats until they said, ‘Mom, let us buy one.’ ”

The Brauns took their Sea Ray Wave Rider all over, to the Bahamas, the Florida Keys and the Dry Tortugas, after he sold his funeral business to his son and moved to Marco Island 14 years ago. Dick is a past commander of the Marco Island Power Squadron.

“We had a great marriage — she was a wonderful, gentle person,” said Dick, adding that Dorothy’s passing could be considered a blessing, as she suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. “She was released from what was ahead of her. I was reading about the disease, and I didn’t even want to read about some of what she had to expect.” He is thankful, he said, that their daughter Cynthia moved in with Dorothy and him.

“We had a good life. It’s pretty lonesome now. It’s so good to have friends around you.”

Surviving along with Dick are two daughters, Cynthia Braun of Marco Island, Carol (John) Cordes of Rockford, MI, son Keith (Sheryl) of Marco, daughter-in-law Stephanie Braun of Naples, and six grandchildren. Dorothy was preceded in death by her son, Martin Braun. He said that donations in Dorothy’s memory may be made to the Marco Island Fire Rescue Foundation, P.O. Box 925, Marco Island, Florida 34146.

© 2009 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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