Esther Althea Kaplan Braun, 96, died on Nov. 26, 2022. She was born on March 4, 1926. Her original middle name was “Alma,” which she did not like and later changed to Althea in honor of her maternal grandmother, Esther Alta.
She was 13 in 1939 when Germany invaded Poland, where many relatives on both sides of her family still lived. Letters stopped coming, the news on the radio, and her own childhood experiences with antisemitism left her with a sense of foreboding. She involved herself in volunteer work supporting the war effort.
In 1943, she spent her summer tending a field of potatoes for the army on the family’s Scituate lands, another of her father’s ideas to contribute further to the war effort.
She started college at Wellesley in 1943 after persuading the Chemistry Department to let her take a test in first-year organic chemistry. She graduated from Wellesley in 1947. That school year she also met a young naval officer and Harvard graduate, Mort Braun. They married in June, 1947, and she continued to work in a blood chemistry lab until her pregnancy with her first child.
In 2001, she and Mort moved into an independent-living townhouse in Carleton-Willard Village in Bedford after Mort was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Mort died unexpectedly barely six months after they moved in, but not before he had helped her get her new garden plots going and her new bird feeders set up. She helped organize the village library catalog and the still-ongoing growing of organic cherry tomatoes in quantity by village residents to add to the salad bar in the main dining room.
She was honored by Carleton-Willard in 2013 with its Program Innovation Award for her role in its World War II Memories program.
There will be a public memorial gathering at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Dec.17 at the Pierce House, 17 Weston Rd., Lincoln. Carleton-Willard Village will host its own private memorial gathering. Interment in the Lincoln Cemetery will be private.
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