John T. “Ted” Braun
“The great, unbelieving cosmologists speak, not only of the Big Bang, but of its sound waves, still detected by their instruments. We live within the aura of Creation.” – John T. Braun
John T. “Ted” Braun died March 6, 2013, at the age of 91, “with all his people in blessed peace around him” after a long hospitalization. He was a philosopher and teacher to the end and never stopped trying to fathom the mystery of life. He had a great gift for connection with others, and whether as beloved mentor or loving father, he made us feel alive with wonder and meaning. His love, humor and presence in his last months and days taught us the full meaning of the words of his friend and mentor, Paul Tillich: “Love is the infinite which is given to the finite.”
Ted was born in Telluride Colo., growing up in Chicago and Webster Groves, Mo. where he met and fell in love with one of the Lohans’ girls, Alice, his wife of 69 years. They shared an interest in Kierkegaard and questions of implicit knowledge, and he loved her “sublime intuition.” He attended Elmhurst College (BA Philosophy), singing in the Glee Club before Eleanor Roosevelt and Bertrand Russell, and meeting Burl Ives and Pete Seeger. His path then led into the Army Medical Corp, (WWII), through Union Theological Seminary (Theology, Philosophy), and landed him in Frogpond, Ore., as pastor of a small country church (’49-’57). In ’54, he received a MA in Education from Reed College. A Ph.D. from University of Washington in ’67 enabled his tenure as English professor at Lewis and Clark College in Portland (’57-’86). His writings include two books: “The Apostrophic Gesture” and “Anguispira Oracularis.” His life reflected a commitment to social justice, and in his own words, he would urge us “to trust the inner urgency in nature toward participatory meaning, toward spontaneous organization, toward creativity. Another word for participatory meaning is love. The purpose of creative spontaneity is radical action for justice.” Ted and Alice retired to a life on Orcas Island in ‘89, crafting lush gardens to complement a rustic cabin and a three-story house, built mostly with their own hands. On Orcas, Ted played trombone and sousaphone in community bands, helped build the library’s book collection, and joined land conservation efforts, such as the preservation of Madrona Point. In ’09, Ted and Alice moved to Langley, Wash., where Ted brought out his childhood violin and became the oldest member of the Whidbey Community Orchestra at ages 88-91, continuing a life-long love of music.
Ted Braun is survived by his wife Alice, children Erica, Enid, Marcus, and Tim, siblings Dorothy, Harold, Eugene and Marion, grandchildren Matthew, Ted, Peter, Ramona, Emma and Kai, plus great-grandchildren Bennett, Lydia and Isabel. The family is truly grateful for all the care he received from Dr. Brouns (Compass Oncology), Drs. Lange and Nicacio and all the staff at PHSW Medical Center, especially 4W and the ICU. Contributions can be made in his name to the Orcas Library, 500 Rose Street, Eastsound, Wa 98245. Please sign in at http://tedbraun.forevermissed.com and leave memories and contact information for a memorial gathering tentatively scheduled for June.