Valentine and Alexander Braun were dedicated advocates for better care after surviving the harsh realities of the second world war. Valentine (Valentina) Petra (Petrovna) Lange was born in Timisoara, Romania in1929 to Russian engineer Peter Zaitzev and Romanian housewife Helen Talpa Lange. By the end of the Great Patriotic War in the former Soviet Union (during World War II) she and her parents were forced to flee from Europe. By 1944 Valentine was living in a Displaced Persons (DP) camp in Bavaria where she met Alexander Braun, both awaiting permission to immigrate to the United States. Valentine moved to North Newton, Kansas, in 1949, with support from the Mennonite Central Committee; Alexander moved first to Canada and later to Topeka, where he and Valentine lived the rest of their lives. Valentine and Alexander were married in 1951.
Alexander (Petrovich) Braun was born in 1923 in the village of Wernersdorf (Little Germany), former Soviet Union, now the Republic of Ukraine, the oldest child of farmers Peter and Katharine Braun, Germans by nationality. When Alexander was a little boy, his father was arrested and taken away from the family for an extended period of time while his mother and younger children experienced extremely harsh living conditions. In 1941, when the Germans invaded and occupied the former Soviet Union, Alexander was forcefully “recruited” to work for the Germans because of his ability to speak German and Russian. After the war Alexander was a refugee in Austria where he worked on a farm.
Valentine’s professional career was with the Kansas Medical Society. She was an early member of Kansans for Improvement of Nursing Homes/KINH (now Kansas Advocates for Better Care/KABC). Alexander became a Master Electrician and worked many years for the Kansas Neurological Institute.
Valentine and Alexander supported the work of KABC during their lives and with a bequest upon their deaths, leaving a legacy of commitment to better elder care.