PORT ANGELES — A celebration of life is planned in February for Gary Braun, a former council member and mayor who was remembered as a natural diplomat and as a man who deeply cared for his community.
Braun died of natural causes at the age of 86 on Dec. 9 in his Port Angeles home, which he shared with his son Randy.
A celebration of life is planned for noon Feb. 23 at Queen of Angels Catholic Church, 209 W. 11th St., in Port Angeles.
A former fire marshal and customs inspector, Braun’s public service included serving on the Port Angeles City Council from 1992 to 1999 and then again from 2002 to 2009, a combined total of 14 years.
He was mayor in 1998, 1999 and 2008-09.
He also served for 15 years on the Clallam Transit board, stepping down in 2009.
“Gary was a very professional person with high integrity and was very sincere in his beliefs and actions,” said Orville Campbell, who served on the Port Angeles City Council from 1995 to 2003 and is a former deputy mayor.
“The city of Port Angeles was very fortunate to have his service,” Campbell said.
His father “was always concerned about people and the running of the city,” said Braun’s son Scott, a Port Angeles optometrist.
“He could easily talk about anything with anybody,” said Dr. Braun, agreeing that his father was something of a natural diplomat.
“He enjoyed working out issues with the city … He liked working on the current issues of the day.”
His father enjoyed fishing; Scott remembers going fishing with him at Lake Sutherland. Braun also pitched fast pitch for the Coast Guard’s team.
He played cribbage at the Port Angeles Fire Hall during his career with the department, served as fire marshal, and was very active in the Queen of Angels Church, where he drove a bus after retiring. He then took a job as a customs inspector.
The family’s roots go deep into Port Angeles.
Braun was born Ervin Gary Braun in the town where his father, also born locally, worked as an electrician at the Rayonier Mill that closed in 1997. Scott and Randy were among several children born in Port Angeles and Scott says that now his son is fourth-generation Port Angeles.
“He was always a real cheerful fellow and part of the city family for many years,” Scott said.
Retired Fire Chief Dan McKeen was impressed with Braun when he first arrived in Port Angeles. McKeen was interviewing with the fire chief at the time for a job with the fire department and Braun talked with McKeen’s wife, mostly about Port Angeles.
”He talked about how great the community is,” McKeen .
“Firefighters loved talking about how great the fire department is, but he talked mostly about the community.”
Braun retired from the department shortly after McKeen joined it but later encouraged the then assistant chief and fire marshal to “to throw my hat into the ring for fire chief.
“He said that would broaden my interaction within the community and more importantly, my role in the community,” McKeen said.
“He felt deeply about the community and the people he served.”
Brad Collins — who served as city community development director from 1989 through 2005, on the Port Angeles City Council from 2010 to 2017 and as deputy mayor in 2012-13 — worked with Braun for many years.
“He was a presence in the community,” Collins said.
Collins and Braun worked together to develop a city-to-city relationship with Victoria.
“The cities had been across the Strait (of Juan de Fuca) from each other for well over 100 years and had never gotten together,”Collins said.
“Under our watch that happened.”
The two made several trips to Victoria until 2011 when a new mayor was elected who was not as interested in pursing the interaction, Collins said.
“I know Gary relished that role a lot,” he said.
“Gary enjoyed representing the community,” Collins said. “He was a good mayor, a good spokesperson. He reveled in being the mayor. I was happy to serve him professionally as community development director and in community relations as in Victoria.”
“I always enjoyed being with Gary.
“He was a happy person. He saw the happy side of the street.”
Braun was preceded in death by his wife of 51 years, Geri; granddaughter Rachel Braun; sisters Roberta Braun Smith and Dolly Spencer Homman; and brother Ken Spencer.
He is survived by sons Scott, Randy, Tony, and John Shoemaker; daughter Christina Shoemaker Simmons; seven grandchildren, two great grandchildren and brothers Lloyd and George Spencer.
The family’s obituary is on Page B8 of today’s Peninsula Daily News.
Executive Editor Leah Leach can be reached at 360-417-3530 or at email@example.com.