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Thomas Braatz - Class Of 1951

Thomas Braatz of Ft. Lauderdale, FL, died on October 30, 2018.  Born on May 12, 1933, in Kenosha, WI to Myron and Lila Braatz, Tom attended Mary D. Bradford High School, where he played basketball, football and track.  He was selected to the All State football team in 1950 and played in the annual All State North-South High School Classic.  As captain of the basketball team, he was chosen on the All Big Eight first team and voted the team's MVP.  Along with his athletic achievements in high school, he also met the love of his life, Jeri.

Tom attended Marquette University and played football under coach Lisle Blackbourn.  As a junior, he was named co-captain of the Hilltoppers in 1954.  Later in his college career he was chosen to the 22-man roster for the Shriners North-South Charity All-Star game in Miami, Florida.  Tom was selected in the 14th round of the 1955 NFL draft by the Washington Redskins.  He was subsequently drafted into the US Army in 1955 and served in the Korean War.  He played on the All Star Army football team that beat the Navy All Stars 35-0 and was chosen to the Far-East All Army football squad which defeated Air Force in the Rice Bowl in Tokyo in 1956.  1957 was his rookie year with Washington Redskins under coach Joe Kuharich.  He played both ways as a tight end and linebacker for three years.  In 1960, he went to the Dallas Cowboys in the expansion draft to play under Coach Tom Landry.  A back injury in 1962 ended his playing career.  Tom was an NFL Front Office Executive for almost 40 years from 1965 to 2003 holding various titles including Scout, Director of College Scouting, Director of Player Personnel, Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager with the Atlanta Falcons, the Green Bay Packers and the Miami Dolphins.  In his 39 years as a front office executive, Tom drafted 44 players that played in 112 Pro Bowls.  His teams went to 17 playoff games during his tenure.  He has been inducted into the Pro Scouting Hall of Fame and awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from his Alma Mater, Marquette University.

In retirement, Tom enjoyed spending time with his family at Lake Lanier in Georgia and at his home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida where he taught his four grandchildren about fishing and life.  Tom enjoyed playing golf with family and friends, attending Willie Nelson concerts and he was an avid collector of antique fishing lures, western belt buckles and stag horn carving sets among other things.

Tom is survived by his wife of 63 years, Geraldine Braatz; his two sons, Thomas D. Braatz; Jonathan Braatz of Atlanta (Stephanie); and four grandchildren (Jonathan II, Ryan, Hannah, Sarah).

A memorial mass will be celebrated on Saturday, December 1, 2018 at 10:30 a.m., at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, 4595 Bayview Drive, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33308.

Published in Sun-Sentinel from November 6-11, 2018