In Memoriam

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Robert Braunwart ’70

A picture of Robert Braunwart

Robert Braunwart III ’70, October 14, 2007, in Los Angeles, California. Vern Lindblad ’67 recently informed the college of Robert’s death from a rare form of melanoma. A Washington state native, Robert attended Reed as a National Merit Scholar, studying at the college for two years before transferring to the University of Washington. Vern says, “I first met Bob at Reed in 1966, after I heard rumors of another student at Reed from Moses Lake, Washington, and tracked him down. I was a senior, and it turned out that he was a fast and meticulous typist, so I ended up employing him to type my thesis. At my thesis defense, my committee commented about the lack of typos—we ended up quibbling about one comma, whose presence I defended. Back in those days before desktop computers, it may have been rare for them to see a typed manuscript without numerous erasures and white-out corrections.” When Vern moved to Seattle in 1982 to attend graduate school in linguistics at the University of Washington, Robert was living with his wife Glenda L. Gartman in the University District, “where there were many potential clients for his typing entrepreneurship.” Vern reconnected with him, and over the next several years Robert typed many papers for him, including an MA thesis on Uyghur phonology. Robert was an administrative assistant, an editor, a small business owner, and an online mathematics tutor. His major interests and activities focused on politics and projects ranging from the Professional Football Researchers Association he cofounded to serving as a contributor to hundreds of articles to Wikipedia, primarily on the viceroys of New Spain. On his Wikipedia page, Rbraunwa, we read that Robert encouraged others to gain intellectual development and political awareness. “He urged people to become informed and involved and to keep up the fight for a better, more just world.” He spent 20 years compiling a database of world history dates, including birth and death dates of famous people, dates of historical events, scientific and artistic events, and popular culture events, which contains more than 500,000 entries. He lived in Oaxaca, Mexico, for 15 years prior to returning to the U.S. in 2006 for medical treatment, which was thwarted by HMO physicians, who refused to authorize treatment by a specialist. In Oaxaca, Robert supported the education of children by providing friendship, encouragement, tutoring, and financial assistance. Robert was predeceased by his first wife Carol Anne Bays, who attended Reed in 1967–68 and died in Anchorage in April 1997, and by their son, Kevin Robert Braunwart, who died in Portland in June 1997. His mother, Dorothy, died in 2012. Survivors include Glenda, his adopted daughter Monica, and three brothers. Says Vern, “I had only sporadic contact with Bob and Glenda after they moved to Oaxaca, and it was a real shock to learn that Bob had died. His memorial service at the University of Washington’s Burke Museum was a special opportunity not only to remember him, but also to meet family members and friends of his, many of whom I had never met before. I understand that his health insurance refused to pay for a required procedure. It’s not clear to me that the latest partial reforms of health care laws would have helped him—unfortunately for all of us.”

Appeared in Reed magazine: December 2013

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