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John T. Braun MAT ’54

A picture of John Braun

John T. Braun MAT ’54, March 6, 2013, in Vancouver, Washington, at 91, from lung complications following cancer surgery. Ted majored in philosophy and sociology at Elmhurst College in Elmhurst, Illinois, and served in the Army Medical Corps during World War II. Postwar, he earned a master’s degree in philosophy and theology at Union Theological Seminary in New York, where he studied with Paul Tillich and Reinhold Niebuhr. He focused on economics and sociology in his subsequent studies at Cornell. In 1949, he moved to Frogpond, Oregon, to be pastor of the Meridian United Church of Christ. He came to Reed to study psychology and the philosophy of education and wrote a master’s thesis under Ed Garlan [philosophy 1946–73] on the work of John Dewey. As he later wrote: “A humanist, Dewey nevertheless was something of a mystic, I argued, in his reverence for the value of direct experience of nature through work and through the sheer immediacy of scientific awareness. A sense of transcendence was implied, although he shared the humanists’ abhorrence of dualism.” Ted also enjoyed Lloyd Reynolds’ [English & art 1929–69] “leftist take on American history.” Ted went on to earn a PhD in modern British literature at University of Washington and joined the faculty in English at Lewis & Clark. His Lewis & Clark colleagues noted: “Ted’s intellectual breadth and experimental approach to learning were facets of his inspired teaching.” One course Ted taught came about after he had successfully constructed a Greek lyre and learned to chant Homeric poetry—the course involved making instruments for the purpose of interpreting poetry through performance. “Materials for the course included a vise, plane, saber saw, hand drill, knives, chisels, scrapers, files, rawhide, white and yellow cedar, shellac, gourds, gut, nylon strings, and ‘junk,’ in Ted’s words. With their handcrafted instruments, he and his students explored the ‘the radical inscape’ of poetries, both ancient and modern.” Students lingered for hours in Ted’s office at Lewis & Clark, and he, likewise, was open and curious with those he encountered in his life, whether as a student, pastor, teacher, friend, philosopher, traveler, mentor, or, finally, as a hospital patient. “He was always ready to confront the mysteries of life.” Ted published The Apostrophic Gesture and self-published Anguispira Oracularis. He wrote a memoir for his family and also collected his thoughts in a great store of notebooks. Ted and Alice, his beloved wife of 69 years, transformed a rustic space on Orcas Island, Washington, into a lush garden with a cabin and a home. While living there, Ted played trombone and sousaphone in community bands, helped to build the local library’s book collection, and joined land conservation efforts, including the preservation of Madrona Point. In 2009, the couple moved to Whidbey Island, where Ted played violin in the community orchestra until his 91st year. Enid Braun, who informed the college of her father’s death, wrote, “He was a beautiful man, with an incredible mind, well loved as a father, grandfather, teacher and mentor, and he lived a full life, with a strong social conscience.” Survivors include his wife; two daughters and two sons, six grandchildren, including Ramona Fankhauser ’16; three great-grandchildren; and his two sisters and two brothers. A memorial site has been created for Ted at

Appeared in Reed magazine: September 2013

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