Mom is an amazing woman who lived a remarkable life, marked by both hardship and triumph.
Joyce Elaine Braak was born March 15, 1935 to Susan (Verkaik) and Albert P. Braak in Hammond, IN. She was the younger sister of Harvey.
She left her undergraduate studies to care for her mother Susan when she was struck with a brain tumor. Mom persisted in her studies and was one of only a handful of women in her Medical School at Wayne State. She was an accomplished synchronized swimmer and she played both the flute and piano.
She went on to complete her residency in the deep South in Arkansas and she and my father moved to Portland, Oregon where she raised the family while working as a vascular surgeon.
Mom always managed to find joy in small things, to find time to help others (I have fond memories of her working on a friend’s political campaign), to work miracles by staying up all night to sew me beautiful hand-made dresses, to nurture special times like making homemade bagels. She filled our home with love, creativity, music and animals. When her marriage ended in divorce, she reinvented our lives on a farm in the foothills of the coast range in Oregon where, despite tough financial times, she still managed to make every day special. We had great times together – with lots of goats!
After moving to the Upstate New York area when her children were off in college, she went back to complete her training in Psychiatry and did her residency in New York City. She served on the board of the American Women’s Medical Association (AMWA) and traveled extensively for this and others speaking engagements at conferences. She was also very active in a joint task force at the United Nations (UN).
Mom liked to remind me to "not borrow from tomorrow” and to “not wallow in the woe”. As someone who faced her share of adversity, she remained a very positive and optimistic person.
In her later years she found joy in gardening, her Temple and congregation activities, watching for wildlife (including a host of turkeys, deer and a bear). There was always a kindness and her voice sounded like honey.
She is survived by her adoring daughter, Eden S. Braun and son-in-law James J. Wysong, her son Kevin E. Braun, MD, and daughter-in-law Rebecca A. Braun; her grandsons Jacob, Joshua, Noah and Benjamin Braun; nieces Adele, Cynthia (Cindy), and Beverly and nephew Dairen Braak. Her partner of many years, Alan I. Samuels, Ph.D., predeceased her as did her brother, Harvey W. Braak.
She was a remarkable mother, grandmother, partner and friend and will be deeply missed.
Mom wished for a very simple funeral that included some of the many flowers she loved, but that had a “cheap, leaky casket” so that she could return to her beloved dirt. I would frequently call and find that she was “playing in the dirt” as she put it, inspecting her plants to see what was coming up. I will find her in every speck of dirt, every starry night under the moon and most especially with every hawk that I see circling.
All are welcome to graveside services in celebration of Joyce on Friday December 29, 12:00 PM at Washington Memorial Chapel Churchyard, 2000 Valley Forge Park Road, King of Prussia, PA 19406. Please meet at the chapel office as we will be escorted to the gravesite.
In lieu of flowers, contributions in Joyce’s memory may be made to the American Women’s Medical Association (amwa-doc.org); an animal advocacy organization such as AnimalKind Inc of Hudson, NY (animalkindny.org) or Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue (donkeyrescue.org); or any Native American organizations.