Obituary: Frank Robert Braden Jr. / Centenarian who was family physician loved to jitterbug, dress eccentrically

March 28, 1909 - May 19, 2014

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Each time a family member, friend or former patient sees that certain Norman Rockwell painting, the one with a white-haired physician checking the heartbeat of a little girl's doll with his stethoscope, they can't help but think of "Doc Braden."

Frank Robert Braden Jr. practiced family medicine from the office attached to his Coraopolis home until he was 100.

Well known for his diagnostic skills, professional affiliations, zest for life and distinctive sense of fashion, Dr. Braden died at his home on Monday. He was 105.

He described himself as an old-fashioned family doctor. He took pride in knowing his patients and providing personal care, and used the same office where his father, also a doctor, practiced.

Coraopolis Council honored him for his long-term service when he turned 103, after he retired.

"He retired after his kids retired," said one of his daughters, Pamela Sue Braden, who lived with him.

Born in Coraopolis, he graduated from Coraopolis High School in 1926. He received a bachelor's degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1930, and followed his father into the medical profession, receiving his medical degree in 1933. He served his internship at Allegheny General Hospital from 1933-34.

In 1936 he married Mildred "Mem" McCormick. She preceded him in death in 1989 after 53 years of marriage.

He served in the Army Medical Corps from 1941-46. He was involved in many professional organizations, serving as an officer and on the board of directors for the Allegheny County Medical Society from 1955-58. He also was president of the medical staff of Sewickley Valley Hospital from 1955-56. He was a lifelong member of the Presbyterian Church of Coraopolis.

Also known as Doc or Dr. B, many who knew him called him "Uncle Buck." As a child he played a game called "Buck, Buck, how many fingers up?" and the nickname stuck.

He was called many names, but never a wallflower.

Parties and dances were a favorite activity. He and his wife had taken professional lessons at an Arthur Murray Studio. His 90th birthday celebration, held at the Clarion Royce hotel ballroom in Moon, was attended by 340 of his closest friends, who will attest to his jitterbugging skills.

"He never refused an invitation to a party or dance. An invitation never came to the house that he did not attend, whether near or far," Ms. Braden said.

Having been an instructor at the Sewickley Valley Hospital School of Nursing, he never missed graduation celebrations. His typical attire included a white dinner jacket, blue linen bermuda shorts, white knee-socks and white bucks.

His daughter described his fashion sense as "sartorial splendor." He read every catalog that came to his house from cover to cover. He was especially fond of his corduroy slacks with embroidery that he ordered during the Christmas season. His plaid pants also were a wardrobe staple.

In his spare time he enjoyed photography. At one time there were 45,000 35-millimeter slides in his attic. He converted many to digital and was able to preserve many special memories for his family.

A portrait of Dr. Braden was presented to him a year ago and hangs in the original entrance to what's now called Heritage Valley Sewickley Hospital, where he spent 35 years on staff, according to Dan Murphy, public relations director. The portrait was donated by painter Richard Smith.

In addition to his daughter Pamela, he is survived by another daughter, Cynthia Ann Spohn of Calabash, N.C., and one son, Frank "Buck" R. Braden III of Palm Bay, Fla. He had five grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

Visitation will be at Copeland's Coraopolis, 867 Fifth Ave., from 2-4 and 7-9 p.m. today (Masonic Service at 7:30 p.m.). Services will be held 10 a.m. Friday. Burial will follow in Coraopolis Cemetery.

Memorial donations may be made in his name to the Presbyterian Church of Coraopolis, 1201 Fifth Ave., Coraopolis, PA 15108 or Heritage Valley Sewickley Foundation, 720 Blackburn Road, Sewickley, PA 15108.


Lorri Drumm: ldrumm@post-gazette.com or 412-263-3771.


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