Kathleen Emelyn “Kay” (Armstrong) Braeuninger, 97, wife of the late Albert D. Braeuninger, passed away Friday morning, Sept. 6, at a Caribou healthcare facility, after an extended illness. She was born on her father’s potato farm in Caribou, Maine on May 17, 1916, the daughter of Henry Wilbert and Annie (Shaw) Armstrong. She grew up in Caribou, graduated from Caribou High School in the Class of 1933, and worked for several years at the Caribou Library during and after high school.
She left Caribou on a bitterly cold (-40’s) morning in February of 1935, and attended nursing school at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. She graduated in 1938, as a nurse and a nursing instructor, remaining in the Boston area, teaching at both MGH and Burbank Hospital in Fitchburg, Mass., until joining the Navy Nurse Corps in 1943.
During World War II, she served at Chelsea, Mass., Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. (where she fondly remembered being the only nurse with 1,400 men), and Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland. After the war, she continued to serve, at San Diego Corps School (teaching corpsman), Long Beach, Calif., American Samoa in the Pacific (teaching Samoans to be nurses) and Washington, D.C., at the Nurse Corps Headquarters. It was while she was in Samoa in 1948, that she met a young Navy pilot, Dale Braeuninger, who she later married in 1950.
Kay then had two children and spent the next part of her life raising them and supporting Dale as her career with the Department of Defense grew. They lived in Silver Spring, Md., but were stationed overseas a couple of times: first in Frankfurt, Germany, in the early 1960’s and then in Harrogate, England, in the 1970’s, and they took those opportunities to travel around Europe.
Kay became a good cook, and was known as a wonderful hostess. She was a Girl Scout and 4H leader and enjoyed bird watching, sewing, quilting and listening to Big Band music. Kay briefly returned to nursing at NIH in Bethesda, Md., until she was injured in a car accident. She was told she would never walk again, but she fought back to almost full mobility.
Dale retired in 1985 and they bought a beautiful home in Belfast where they lived for the next 19 years. Kay was very active in all kinds of organizations and activities, including the Quilting Club, the Curling Club, American Legion and others. They were active members at the St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church, and also traveled a great deal visiting family and friends all across the country and in England. They also enjoyed returning to Aroostook County where they enjoyed their camp on Long Lake, and their farm in Woodland.
In 2002, due to Dale’s failing health they returned to Maryland to be nearer their children. They moved to a lovely retirement community in Salisbury, Md., where they lived for five years.
In 2007, their daughter and her husband decided to move to Aroostook County following Kathy’s retirement. Kay and Dale moved with them to a beautiful home with a nice apartment in Fort Fairfield along the river, where Kay loved seeing the places and people she remembered from her childhood.
She continued to live with Kathy and Dean after Dale’s death in 2008, until 2012, when she moved to the Maine Veteran’s Home in Caribou. She loved being able to talk with the other veteran’s about their experiences, and received very kind and patient care from all the staff members during her stay there.
In addition to her parents and her husband, Kay was predeceased by her daughter Kathleen Ann “Kathy” Braeuninger on Jan. 9; three brothers Earl, Vaughn and Murchie Armstrong; one sister Mary Harmon. She is survived by one son and daughter-in-law, Robert and Amy Braeuninger of Salem, Ore.; four grandchildren Virginia Magee and her husband Bill of Columbia, Md., Vaughn Braeuninger and his wife Brenda of Florida, Amanda Braeuninger of Middletown, Md., Jesse Braeuninger of Portland, Oregon; two great grandchildren, Brandon and Nathan Braeuninger of Florida; son-in-law, Dean Hunter of Florida; numerous nieces and nephews.
Friends may call Tuesday, Sept. 10, from noon to 1 p.m. at the Giberson-Dorsey Funeral Home, 144 Main Street, Fort Fairfield, where the funeral service will be conducted at 1 p.m. with the Rev. Kevin Kinsey officiating. Interment will follow at the Maine Veteran’s Memorial Cemetery, Caribou.
Those who wish may contribute in memory of Mrs. Braeuninger to the Robert A. Frost Memorial Library,(Kay’s high school sweetheart who was killed in a car accident in 1937) 43 Main Street, Limestone, Maine 04750. Envelopes will be available at the funeral home. Online condolences may be expressed at www.gibersondorseyfuneralhome.com.