Burnett Society Member Spotlight: Ron Braun

Ron Braun and his wife pose for a photo in front of greenery
Pat and Ron Braun

Ron Braun, M.D., is a 1965 graduate of the College of Medicine at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. He and his wife of 64 years, Pat, have been loyal supporters of UNMC and the College of Medicine for more than 55 years. In addition, they have included the University of Nebraska Foundation in their estate plans to keep UNMC at the cutting edge of medical technology.

Burnett Letter interviewed Dr. Braun in August 2023.

What was your first job?

I applied for and got a permit from the state of New Jersey allowing children to work at age 14. There was a farm nearby looking for kids to pick strawberries. I took my permit and was given instructions. I filled 10 one-quart containers and gave them to the boss. He said I had picked some that were not ripe enough and he was tired of kids cheating him. So, he fired me — giving me 50 cents for my efforts.

Since it was a hot day, I stopped at a local grocer for some ice cream. When I got home, my mom asked why I was back so early. I told her I was fired, and she asked where the money was. When I told her about the ice cream, she lost it. She was very superstitious and said it was a bad omen: I would never have a good job, be a success, or have money. From that day on, every job I had, I held some funds to go into my piggy bank. Eventually, I needed a large one. A parent’s words can have long-lasting effects.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

My parents immigrated from Germany in 1926, having lived through World War I. Dad gave me the best advice: “Don’t go into debt.” In a similar vein, I have admonished our children and grandchildren with this thought: “Do I need this, or do I want it?”

What is your favorite question to be asked?

Have you lost weight?

Who has influenced your life most positively?

After earning my medical degree from the University of Nebraska, three people have had major effects on my life (other than my lovely wife of 64 years). The first individual was a doctor I met briefly. As a USAF flight surgeon, I was on a flight to Greenland when inclement weather caused our flight to be diverted to the Naval Air Station in Newfoundland. I visited the medical clinic and met a nephrologist. He asked what specialty interested me. I replied “anesthesia.” He asked if I had visited the program at Yale and I said I had not. He suggested I look into it because the head of the department, Dr. Nicholas Green, was well respected and ran a good program. Fortunately, the program was expanding, and I applied. Luckily, I was accepted. The decision led to many good results. Unfortunately, I never thanked the doctor who gave such good advice.

In 1969, during my residency, I met Dr. John Daniels. He would become the chief of anesthesia at Danbury Hospital in Danbury, Connecticut. I joined that practice. In 1984 Dr. Daniels asked me to join him in forming our own anesthesia group, which was to provide services to the new freestanding outpatient Danbury Surgical Center. It was an excellent opportunity with positive results.

In 1981, I met Axel Schupf, a New York financial advisor. His success in managing my accounts for more than 40 years has given me the freedom to allocate funds, including donations.

Surprisingly, in most years, even after donations, my accounts have continued to grow. I am most grateful.

Why do you plan to leave a gift to the University of Nebraska in your estate?

Donating to the University of Nebraska, as well as to others, has served us well. My wife and I have included donations in our recent estate planning updates. It’s a way to say “thanks” for helping me to get my medical degree. Hopefully, some portions of the fund can help other students at the College of Medicine. As I reflect on these questions, I realize how fortunate I have been. There are so many paths one can choose and, surprisingly, bad weather was the only major factor in our life’s journey. Being lucky is such a good thing.

What is your favorite song?

Of the many songs we enjoy, the 1939 hit, “Deep Purple” comes to mind — it’s as old as we are and the melody has stood the test of time.