Ralph William Braun, founder and CEO of The Braun Corporation, passed away Friday, Feb. 8, 2013 in Winamac. He was 72.
Born on Dec. 18, 1940 in Winamac, he was the son of Joseph J. and Olive M. Braun. He was a pioneer in the mobility industry, after struggling with SMA from a young age. Out of a need to improve his own mobility, Braun built his first three-wheel scooter in 1962. Realizing that there were many others like him, he started his own company, Save-A-Step Manufacturing, in 1963. It eventually grew into The Braun Corporation, which was incorporated in 1972. What began as a solution to his own mobility needs grew to a company that would eventually change thousands of lives. In 2006, The Braun Corporation adopted the brand name, BraunAbility for its products. Today his company has grown into a world-wide corporation, with its headquarters still based in Winamac.
In 2010, Ralph Braun released his autobiography, Rise Above. He then started The Ralph Braun Foundation as a way to assist the disabled population with purchasing mobility equipment. As a recipient of many awards and honors, Braun’s recognition began in 1979 when he received the Employer of the Year Award from the Commission for the Handicapped and the Indiana State Board of Health. Since that time, he has been featured on television and in many newspaper and magazine articles for his success and drive to improve the lives of others with disabilities. In 2012 he was recognized as a “Champion of Change” by President Barack Obama. Braun was also honored with the Support of the Guard and Reserves Patriot Award for his dedicated support and flexibility offered to employees serving in the military. Braun’s most recent award was a bronze plaque from the Adaptive Driving Alliance for being the leader and pioneer for mobility products.
Braun was a lifelong model airplane enthusiast and member of the Winamac Aero Modelers Club.
Survivors include his wife of eigtht years, Melody; five children: Cherie (Paul) Braun-Diaz, Todd (Amy) Braun, Brent Braun, Drew (Lisa) Braun, Melissa (Nathan) Dennis; eight grandchildren Nathan and Alison Diaz, Brittney and Brady Braun, Quentin, Justin, and Caitlin Haley, Lindy Dennis; four stepchildren: Aaron (Carrie) Gutwein, Anthony (Jennifer) Gutwein, Allison (Daryl) Starr and Adrienne (Nick) Vollmer; seven step-grandchildren; and one sister; Joan Heath.
He was preceded in death by his father, Joseph J. Braun in 1986, and his and mother Olive M. Freeman Braun in 2012.
Ralph was a loving father, dedicated husband and wonderful friend to many. Over the years, his involvement and donations to our community were too numerous to mention. He will be greatly missed.
Visitation is Thursday, Feb. 14 at St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Winamac from 3 until 8 p.m. and Friday, Feb. 15 from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. EST.
A Funeral Mass will be held at St. Peter’s Catholic Church, in Winamac, on Saturday, February 16 at noon. Entombment will be at St. Peter’s Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to The Ralph Braun Foundation, P.O. Box 310, Winamac, IN 46996.