Walter L. Braun (1921 - 2014)

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"It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things." – Leonardo da Vinci

Walter L. Braun, 93, Bismarck, died March 28, 2014, at St. Gabriel's Community, Bismarck.

Services were held Tuesday, April 1 in Bismarck, with Rev. Allen Wagner officiating. Burial was at Sunset Memorial Gardens, Bismarck.

On the first day of spring in 1921, John and Johanna Braun welcomed Walter Ludwig Braun into the world, on the farm near Mercer, N.D. Walt's father, John Braun, Sr., was an immigrant from Borodino, South Russia, who married Johanna Schock Bentz. From an early age, Walt was known for his tenacity and zest for life. He later put those dynamic forces together to lead a life of hard work and significance, both professionally and in his personal life. This was a gift displayed to his family, even to the end of his life here on earth.

A 1939 Mercer, N.D., high school graduate, Walt earned his way through Minot State College as a bellboy and operating an elevator at the Waverly Hotel. After college, Walt taught one year at Mercer before he was called to duty during World War II. He served in the U.S. Army for 3 ½ years, and after the war, he resumed his teaching career in Cavalier, N.D. During that time he also served in the National Guard until 1947, when he began his own business, the W.L. Braun Agency, where he sold insurance, real estate, and investments.

Walter married his beautiful bride, Lucille Kraft, on a windy day, June 2, 1950, in Edgeley, N.D., and she began assisting him with his agency from the very beginning. Prior to the discovery of oil in North Dakota, Walt was already leasing for oil and gas. On April 2, 1951, when Amerada Hess discovered oil in the Tioga area, Walt established an office there within 48 hours with his partner, R.W. Porter. They later opened an office in Bismarck. On Oct. 13, 1951, Walt was featured in "Collier's" magazine. In 1976, Walt and Lucille moved to Bismarck, where they continued working in the oil business until the time of his death. An interview describing Walt's early experiences in the oil industry is on file at the North Dakota Heritage Center.

Walt and Lucille happily journeyed to many corners of the world during their lifetimes and in 1994, they established the Walter L. Braun and Lucille Braun Family Charitable Gift Fund. Grants from this fund have provided monies to non-profit organizations, with an emphasis on those in need. Permanently endowed scholarships were awarded to BSC and the University of Mary. Their generosity has benefited many people in North Dakota, Montana, and across the nation.

During their years in Turtle Lake, Walt was active in his church and community. In Bismarck, he was a member of First Lutheran Church, the Elks, American Legion, VFW, Landman's Association of ND, and the Dakota Petroleum Club. He served on the Missouri Slope Lutheran Care Center Board, and was president of the North Dakota Insurance Federation in the 70s. He was also a member of the Harold Schafer Founder's Society, the Medora 100 Club, and the President's Club both at the University of Mary and Bismarck State College.

Walt made friends wherever he went and with people of all ages. He loved playing gin rummy and fishing for walleye with his friends and family.

Walt was preceded in death by his parents; 10 siblings, John Braun, Martin Braun, August Braun, Rueban Bentz, Viola Wagner, Mary Sundby, Esther Johnson, Ida Seibold, Louise Eggelston, and Bertha Moser.

Walt leaves behind his beloved wife of 63 years, Lucille; his daughters, Renee (John) Thorp, Bozeman, and Barbara Braun, Bismarck; two granddaughters, Sasha (Brent) Morvay, Billings, Mont., and Rachel (Eddie) Silva, Petaluma, Calif.; and three great-grandchildren, Brooklyn Morvay and Ethan and Madeline Silva.

Memorials may be given to First Lutheran Church, 800 N 7th St, Bismarck, ND, 58501, or a .

Go to www.eastgatefuneral.com to share memories of Walt and sign the online guestbook.
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on Apr. 4, 2014
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