Larrie Eugene Brazner died at home in Appleton, Wisconsin on December 23, 2022, due to complications from Lewy Body Dementia. Despite the difficult circumstances, he maintained a positive attitude to the end.
He was born on December 6, 1929, in Green Bay Wisconsin and was delivering ice on the lower east side of Green Bay by the time he was 12 years old. Despite growing up on the “wrong side of the tracks”, he somehow, with considerable effort, managed to woo Ruth Ann Mathys for a date while both were in high school. They became sweethearts while attending the University of Wisconsin in Madison in the late 1940s and were married in Green Bay on November 28, 1953. They were married for 53 years. They moved to Appleton in 1962 and made their home on Greenfield Street for 45 years until Ruth’s death on January 9, 2007. Larrie remained there until his move to Touchmark in 2018. Ruth and Larrie shared many interests and loved each other dearly. Their roles changed when Ruth got sick with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma near the end of her life. The tender care Larrie provided was a beautiful thing to see and a lived example of “for better, for worse.”
Larrie had a long and successful career with IBM starting as a typewriter salesman but mainly worked as part of the computer division selling and setting up networks for a variety of businesses. This kept him away from home a fair bit, but he was dedicated to and good at his job and almost always made it home for weekends. He and Ruth embraced any opportunity to travel, whether for work or pleasure, and so they traveled the world together both during his working years and after retirement.
He retired in 1985, but immediately took on a part-time pilot’s job with Max Air at Outagamie County Airport and flew commercially with them for another 10 years or so. He had obtained his small-plane pilot’s license in his early 40s and flew recreationally in small Cessnas and a twin-engine Comanche (“this is 1-5 Yankee”) for over 20 years until the Max Air job came his way. It was common for he and Ruth to fly with other couples as far as the Bahamas (can’t believe Ruth agreed to that!) or to visit his kids in whatever far flung places they had ended up. Landing at O’Hare in front of or behind a 747 didn’t seem to faze him a bit – the rest of the family wasn’t always so calm.
Sports were a big thing in his life and for most of his family. Having married into the Mathys clan who were fully part of the fabric of Packer-Nation, he was a lifelong Packers fan with season tickets in both Green Bay and Milwaukee that his father-in-law, Charlie Mathys, had earned as part of his career as a Packer player in the 1920s. The number of tailgating parties he attended are too numerous to count. He was also an avid fan of all Wisconsin sports teams from the Badgers to the Bucks, and Brewers (some of us even remember Green Bay Bobcat games at Brown County Arena) but was also a stalwart for any local school teams that family members or their kids played on, heading out to watch Pop Warner football or high school football and baseball games, regardless of the weather.
In addition to being a fan of the game and watching countless tournaments on TV and being a volunteer at events in Wisconsin, he was an avid and accomplished golfer. He played for many years at various courses mostly around Appleton and Green Bay, but also all over the state and in the Naples area in Florida where he bought a condo (much to the dismay of his wife) in the 1990s. They also took a bucket list trip to Scotland to golf at some of the old courses there. But his longest running golf gig was at Riverview Country Club. He and Ruth were members there for many years where countless rounds were played and even a hole-in one was had. However, possibly his greatest talent related to golf was his ability to manufacture believable accounts of recent “injuries” that he used as leverage to obtain strokes. A dramatic sounding, “oh, my lumbago” was often heard as he approached the first tee much to the chagrin of his playing partners who were groaning almost as loudly about some of their “ailments”. It was a thing that was well-choreographed and something to behold if you happened to be invited to join his foursome.
Larrie was a great father to his two children, Paula (Jeff) and John (Meg), loved his two grandchildren, Adam (Stefanie) and Sarah (Ramiro), and thoroughly enjoyed his extended family in Green Bay and the surrounding area. He had a quick wit, was great with “one-liners” and loved to make people laugh. This was never more on display than at family gatherings such as trips to the cottage “up north”. The extended family made an annual pilgrimage to cottages up in Vilas County since the early 1900s but beginning for Larrie when he and Ruth started dating in the 1940s. From Trout Lake for many years to St. Germain now, the family has always looked forward to this gathering, no one more than Larrie. He could often be found at the end of the dock teaching kids to fish (sadly often with dead minnows which really never worked despite his belief that they did), telling jokes around the barbeque with a drink in one hand and a spatula in the other (“I've got ‘hamburgs’, I've got hot dogs”) or soundly napping in some of the most uncomfortable chairs in the cottages that would have foiled less serious nappers.
He taught by example and was active as a volunteer all over the Appleton community, active in his church at St. Therese and as a volunteer at Appleton Memorial Hospital for many years. Maybe the most important lesson he taught those around him was the importance of family and friends. He loved his extended family and many friends dearly and spent much of his life cultivating those relationships. Outliving most of his friends and those of his era in our family clearly weighed heavily on him but he kept a light-heart in spite of it all and continued to make new friends right to the end of his life. His niece Amy, who lost her own father quite a few years ago, became like a daughter to him over these last years. Amy was available to provide any special care and companionship whenever he needed it, and Larrie providing a laugh or two and the chocolate malts they would share at Culvers. Despite his dementia in the last few years, he continued to be able to make people around him laugh and was telling jokes to the end. And even when the words didn’t come out quite right, you knew what he was trying to do because the twinkle in his eye was still there. He will be sorely missed by all who knew him, but he has provided many happy memories for us, and he lived a full and satisfying life with no regrets.
Bon voyage Larrie, here’s to your wonderful life!
Special thanks to Jean Ormson, dad’s dear friend for many years, who provided companionship through the most challenging days of COVID. We are also grateful to the wonderful staff at Touchmark: Stephanie Buchanan, Taylor Benson, Morgan Edelmann, Mary Warning, Shirley Lund, Shasi Pierotti and all the caregivers who were so kind and caring. We are also grateful to Compassus Hospice, especially Stephanie Goss RN for the compassionate care you provided and the support you offered our family.
A celebration of Larrie’s life will be held at Touchmark (2601 Touchmark Dr, Appleton, WI) in the chapel on Saturday 1/14/23 from 1:00-3:00 pm. Drop in to visit with family and friends between 1-2:30, with an opportunity to share stories and memories from 2:30-3:00.
In lieu of flowers please consider a donation in Larrie’s memory to:
1. Bubolz Nature Preserve - https://bubolzpreserve.org/
2. Fox Valley Humane Association - https://www.foxvalleypets.org/
3. Wisconsin Adaptive Sports Association - https://www.wasa.org/page/show/5307083-donate
4. Thedacare Regional Cancer Center - https://thedacare.org/about-us/giving/
5. An organization of your choice.