You Know You’re From...Hancock: Bob Braun

Published: Jun. 5, 2023 at 9:40 PM CDT
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HANCOCK, Wis. (WSAW) - “Most of the furniture in the house he (Bob) built.”

One step onto the Braun’s front porch, and the woodwork catches your eye.

“The fact you can take a log and turn it into something nice,” said Bob.

Since the late 60s, Bob Braun has been building and building.

“I draw my own plans up,” he said.

For someone who built his life in pharmacy, craftsmanship is his medicine today.

“The only thing that can stop you from doing anything is your mind,” as he pointed to his head.

A few years ago at a high school reunion, he gave wooden flags to some veteran classmates.

“To see a bunch of guys you grew up with basically at school, have tears coming down their eyes,” Bob recalled. “That’s pretty darn good encouragement to do it again.”

His mission turned to giving thanks, and a patriotic piece of art, to veterans.

“Just seeing how the veterans react to it, to be so thankful that you have tears in your eyes,” he said.

“It’s rewarding for us, too, to see their reaction to know they’re not forgotten,” said his wife Gayle.

Armed with flags and eagles, Bob and Gayle, his wife of 52 years, keep their eagle eyes open when they’re out and about.

“I seem to have a deal where I can tell a veteran pretty easily,” Bob said.

“We thought that was the perfect location,” said Jerad Keil, showing off his new wall ornament.

You Know You're From...Hancock

In April, Jerad Keil and his wife were leaving a Plover grocery store when Bob and Gayle spotted the couple.

“I was just having a bad day. He says, ‘Hey! I see you’re a veteran. I’ve got something for you,’ and he opens up his trunk and hands this to me,” Jerad remembered. “It’s just the most beautiful thing in the world.”

That act alone rescued this Navyman and pulled him out of his dark place.

“I just can’t convey enough to Bob how important it is to the rest of the service members that he’s doing this,” Jerad said.

“So many of them that we do give stuff to say they’ve never been thanked before. They’re unbelievably thankful,” said Bob.

So far, Bob has handed out 304 eagles and flags. While a bad knee may slow him down this summer, quitting isn’t an option.

“I told Halle, our granddaughter, I say, you know ‘I don’t want to stop doing it. Think I could hit 500?’ And she says, ‘You better make sure you hit 500 Grandpa,’” he said with a smile.

“The amazing part is that he made that many and he made them by hand. And he puts a lot of detail, a lot of thought into each one,” Gayle added.

He’s not just Bob the builder, but Bob an American saluting those for their service.

“To know that you’ve made a difference in somebody’s life, you made their life a little better. By doing what? What I love to do.”

While Bob didn’t serve, his son Tim is a Marine. He says he does it to honor him. Bob and Gayle have given away as many as seven in one day. He says he regrets not having started doing this sooner.