Joe Braun: A true competitor from Frederic's early era, dies at 101
Gary King|Leader editor
NEENAH - Joe Braun, a natural athlete and teacher who helped develop young minds and competitive spirits at Frederic High School in the 1930s and '40s, died recently at his home in Neenah at the age of 101.
Braun, who would have turned 102 in November, played his last game of golf last year at age 100, reflecting a long life of keeping active.
A Wisconsin native, Braun graduated with a degree in education in 1934 from UW-River Falls where he was also a star athlete. After college, he briefly played semiprofessional baseball and football before taking a job at Frederic High School, where he taught history, math and science, and his wife taught home economics.
Braun coached the football team which included a co-championship trophy in the 1939-40 season.
He left his teaching career to join the U.S. Navy as the nation entered World War II, serving as a lieutenant in the Pacific Theater.
Braun went on to teach and coach at Chippewa Falls and Neenah, where he started a summer baseball/softball program and the Neenah High School baseball program. He was given the name “Jungle Joe” by some because he wore a WWII pith helmet as he traveled on his black skinny-wheeled bike from city park to city park, overseeing the youth baseball program.
He was inducted into the UW-River Falls Athletic Hall of Fame in 1983.
During his time at Frederic, Braun taught, coached and was a pitcher on the Frederic town baseball team for years. He was also a “well-respected citizen of Frederic,” according to LaNore (St. Angelo) Anderson, a former student and friend of Braun’s.
“I corresponded with him each year, and his last letter was hand written and he was looking forward to the golf season,” she noted in a letter to the Leader.
Braun’s full obituary can be found on the website of the Appleton Post-Crescent (postcrescent.com).
Joe Braun (right) as coach of the 1939-40 Frederic Vikings, with fellow teacher and assistant coach, William Johnson. - Leader file photo