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Lawrence Jenkins Braman

Larry BramanMEMORIAL

Died December 18, 2001

As stated in the Boston Globe, Larry Braman was “born into a life of privilege, but chose to spend his life improving the world for others.” He was born January 5, 1944 in New York City. Prior to Yale, he attended Connecticut’s Pomfret School and the International School of Geneva, Switzerland. At Yale, he was a member of Berkeley College, active in sports (soccer, tennis, boxing and wrestling) and majored in French. He sang for the Apollo and Yale Glee Clubs. Some of his early activities at Yale suggested a politically conservative orientation (Army ROTC, rifle club and a junior member of the NRA). However, according to his account in our 50th reunion book his viewpoint evolved “to take life more seriously.” He states that one of the first clues to move in that direction was a particularly memorable phrase from one of William Sloan Coffin’s sermons: “some say religion is a crutch. And who says you don’t limp?”

After Yale he moved back to New York City to attend Columbia School of Architecture, achieving a master’s degree. During that time he participated in civil rights and anti-war activities, and became a conscientious objector. Reverend Coffin’s adage became more personal when in 1969 he was paralyzed below the shoulders from a diving accident. By his own account, the neck injury “provided some extraordinary insights, but there are probably easier ways to come by them.” He spent the next 52 years of his life “greeting the world from a wheelchair.”

Following rehabilitation from his neck injury, he moved to an East Boston triple-decker, starting a commune with a group of friends. Their activities included establishing a food co-op, a general store, a community newspaper and renovating abandoned housing. The commune gradually dissolved as members started to form their own nuclear families. He continued to live in the same East Boston home for at least the next thirty years, eventually moving to Cambridge, as he reported in 2006. Following dissolution of the commune, he parlayed his architectural training and housing experience into regular work in affordable housing development.

In 1994, Larry received his second master’s degree, this time from the Harvard University School of Design. This additional training led him to start a new career in Geographic Informational Systems (GIS). He was employed by the City of Boston Department of Neighborhood Development. In 2006 he reported that he was now the GIS Manager for the City of Boston Mapping and Data Services.

Larry retired in 2021 and died from complications of cancer December 18, 2021. He is remembered as a kind and gentle man, who surmounted personal challenges to serve others.

– Memorial written by Edward Folland

OBITUARY

Lawrence Jenkins Braman of Cambridge, MA died peacefully on the morning of December 18, 2021 due to complications of cancer. The son of Chester Alwyn Braman, Jr. and Gladys Pomeroy Jenkins, Larry was born into a life of privilege, but he chose to spend his life improving the world for others. Larry was educated at The International School in Geneva, Switzerland, Yale and Columbia Universities, and he was a Loeb Fellow at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. Larry’s long and successful career focused largely on affordable housing and community development. He served on the MA. Architectural Access Board, held positions at Greater Boston Community Development (now The Community Builders), Urban Edge (a community development organization based in Boston’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood), the Boston Department of Neighborhood Development (DND), and finally at the Cambridge Building Department where he reviewed building plans for their compliance with architectural access requirements. He retired earlier this year. Larry was a kind and gentle man whose intelligence was often revealed in his sharp wit. Never one to complain, it is remarkable that he happily greeted the world from a wheelchair for the last 52 years of his life following a diving accident in 1969 that left him a quadriplegic. Larry is survived by his half-sisters, Mary Stevens Fillman and Gladys Stevens Thacher, many nieces and nephews, many great-nieces and nephews, and many close friends. A gathering to Celebrate Larry’s extraordinary life will be held later in the spring. Donations in Larry’s memory may be made to the Boston Center for Independent Living, 60 Temple Place, Boston, MA 02111.

Published by Boston Globe from Dec. 21 to Dec. 26, 2021.