Wednesday, August 05, 2020

Robert ‘Bob’ M. Braukus, 79

| July 12, 2020 1:00 AM

Robert “Bob” M. Braukus peacefully passed away on June 2, 2020 in Kirkland, Wash. He was renowned for his gregarious attitude, infectious smile and boisterous laugh. His regular demonstrations of kindness, joy, love, integrity, generosity, strength, mentorship and philosophy will be sorely missed. His heart was always three sizes too big.

Bob was born on May 8, 1941, in Wallace, Idaho, to Joseph John Braukus (a miner) and Anna Frances Matusavage (homemaker), joining his older sister, Mary Theresa. He was proud of his English and Lithuanian heritage and was fond of telling everyone about it. He attended Our Lady of Lourdes Academy, where he met his future bride and lifelong love, Jane Braukus (Kennaugh) in the 6th grade. While living in Wallace, Bob was an altar server at St. Alphonsus Catholic Church. During his summers, he would work down in the Idaho silver mines along with his father and several lifelong friends. Upon adulthood, he attended Seattle University and graduated with a degree in electrical engineering in 1965. Afterward, he took his first job with the Boeing Company on Marginal Way, in Seattle.

In 1966 he attended the Officer Candidate School in Newport, R.I., and became a Lieutenant JG on the aircraft carrier USS Ranger. He was shortly thereafter deployed to Vietnam. During his time on the Ranger, he was charged with overseeing the electrical system of the floating city. He was honorably discharged on Oct. 19, 1968, culminating with a hair-raising jet flight underneath the Golden Gate Bridge on his way home. While in the Navy, he received the following decorations: National Defense Service Medal, Republic of Vietnam Service Medal, Meritorious Unit Commendation and a Navy Unit Citation. Given his intense experiences, he was hesitant at first to talk about his service with his children. In later years, Bob became a Veterans Day speaker, at his grandchildren’s schools, sharing his philosophy that a Veteran is someone who will always help others.

Bob married Jane Kennaugh in Seattle on June 8, 1968 and had two children: Susan and Greg. He modeled care and compassion for his family and adopted multiple stray and homeless dogs.

Most of Bob’s professional career after the Navy was with Puget Sound Power and Light Company and Puget Sound Energy (PSE). In 1980, he and his family briefly relocated to Anchorage, Alaska, where he worked for Chugach Electric. His career culminated as the President of Utility Solutions, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of PSE, prior to his retirement in 2004. He was also a member of many energy industry related organizations, including the National Society of Professional Engineers, the American Society for Quality, WA State Professional Engineers and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the latter of which recognized him as Engineer of the Year, in 1989, for network development.

Bob was a passionate philanthropist who supported many community organizations. He took great pride in working to make his community a better place. Some of his notable contributions included serving on the board for the Tukwila Park and Pond Development Project, on the Board of Regents at Seattle University, as a Puget Sound Blood Center (now Bloodworks) board member, as a Bellevue Downtown Park Project Advisory Committee member, a Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery member, as a special guest reader for ChristmasSounds in Burien, as a Puget Power Challenge Race Series volunteer and as a King County Library System Foundation board member.

Bob was a lifelong and thoughtful scholar, seeking knowledge and understanding about people, religion, cultures and systems. Bob had a special aura that he shared and made him unique to anyone who had the opportunity to meet him. He had immense integrity, and this carried into his professional life, listening to every power customer’s concern, hearing them and working toward a mutual resolution. He was an inspiration to us, our extended family and our community. His playful sense of humor and openness made him stand out in the corporate space. His profound, unconditional love and support were balanced with his philosophy of making good choices and being of service — however and wherever he could. The world was a better place with Bob in it.

He appreciated a “well-made Manhattan,” Mel Brooks movies, and, of course, any sci-fi book. He took the day off of work to go downtown with his kids and friends for the opening of Star Wars in 1977. He drove his kids and their friends around to every McDonald’s in the county collecting a set of Raiders of the Lost Ark VHS tapes. He coached girls and boys soccer, basketball and baseball, and would go to any professional sporting event two hours early and then leave by the third inning or halftime.

Bob was the lone, left-handed “fisherman” in a “right-handers” fishing reel world. Most of the fish he caught had willingly strangled themselves in his countless “backlashes.” He was a hopeful golfer — a true king of the “mulligan.” He was an avid reader, a world traveler, a renaissance man and a sports fan. He was also a good enough sport to work out in the yard during all Seahawks, Huskies and Mariners games, because he was “bad luck,” or simply out of repeated frustration.

Bob earned several well deserved (yet unpublishable) nicknames for his insistence on bringing enough lanterns so that his camping spot could be seen clearly from space — because he was a true “energy” guy. Coming from a family of miners, he respected the earth but could tell you where to find copper nails if a tree was blocking your view. He had a tough time “pruning” his wife’s rose bushes and could never resist jumping into a pile of leaves (knowing that ice and pillows for recovery were in order).

He was a man’s griller; during an Alaskan winter, he would brave the darkness (wearing a headlamp) and extreme weather and cold. Bob made the best Christmas brunch ever, with amazing pancakes, burnt bacon and “navy style” oozy eggs, to the blaring music of “Stop the Cavalry” by the Cory Band. He cooked an amazing turkey each Thanksgiving and we’ll all continue to debate the precise time a turkey needs to “rest” after being cooked (so he could eat a pre-meal snack).

Bob was preceded in death by his wife, Jane (Dec. 2018); his parents, Joe and Anna; brother-in-law, Tom; as well his in-laws.

He is survived by his sister, Mary Theresa (Teddy) Rossi; his children Susan Michelle Braukus Hempstead and Gregory John Braukus (Kathryn Greer Braukus); his grandchildren Nate, Hannah, John and Anna; his nieces, Kendy (Sydni) and Kris (Bill); along with a host of extended family members and good friends.

We hope you will help us continue Bob’s legacy of community involvement and service by making a contribution in Bob’s memory to one of the following organizations: Toys for Tots, Salvation Army, Woodland Park Zoo, Cast for Kids, Archbishop Murphy High School Wildcat Band, First Tee, or Wilderness Conservation NW.

Bob’s family would like to honor the tremendous nurses, techs, CNAs, doctors, social workers, chaplains and all the staff at Evergreen Health Hospice Care in Kirkland, for the extraordinary kindness, care and fellowship they showered on him over the past few months. “Friday night pizza” (and gin) at hospice was legendary!

We also offer special appreciation for Father Tyler Johnson at Holy Family Kirkland, who recently celebrated his 1-year anniversary of ordination. We believe it was an important connection for Fr. Tyler to meet Dad, and vice versa, at this unique life intersection for both.

We will miss Bob every day and will work to carry his legacy forward. Please save May 8, 2021, at 2 p.m., for a celebration of his life at Saint John Mission Catholic Church in Mukilteo, Wash. A reception will follow.