William Lee Bragg, entrepreneur, philanthropist, friend, husband, and father, passed away on 27 February 2021 after a courageous battle with brain cancer. He leaves behind his wife of 49 years, Ruth, and two children; Heather who resides with her husband Scott in Portland, OR, and Luke, who resides in Luzern, Switzerland.
Bill was born on 14 December 1941 in Independence, Missouri. His formative years were spent in Mandan, North Dakota with his parents and two brothers, David (b.1936) and Terry (b.1946). At Mandan High School he was a two-sport star athlete; as an all-conference linebacker on the school football team and star pitcher for his high school and local legion baseball team. He was known for his lefty roundhouse curveball and had a try-out with the Pittsburgh Pirates which ended in an injury to his back.
After graduating from high school, Bill joined the US Army and spent 3 years stationed in Hawaii with the 25th Infantry Division. While in service, he represented the US Army baseball team as their star pitcher in the Hawaiian inter-service league against teams from the Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy, the Submarine Fleet Pacific, and the Hawaiian National Guard. In 1963 he was selected as the all-star pitcher for the league.
After leaving the army, Bill attended the University of Northern Colorado on a baseball scholarship. He once faced a national champion Arizona State team filled with future major leaguers Reggie Jackson, Sal Brando, and Rick Monday. After graduating in 1968 with a BS in Physics he continued with post-graduate work in physics and finance.
During his time in Colorado, Bill met the love of his life, Ruth Seastrand (who was his dentist’s assistant) in Greeley, Colorado. They were married in a ceremony in the Rocky Mountains officiated by Ruth’s pastor father in the summer of 1971. Children soon followed with his daughter Heather born in 1972 and Luke in 1974. By then he had begun working in the meat packing industry which took Bill and his family to Florida, Illinois, New Hampshire, and eventually to Meadville, PA. In 1990, Bill started an executive search agency which grew to include offices in Iowa and Wisconsin in addition to the home office in Meadville.
He spent nearly half of his life in his adopted town of Meadville, PA where he became a pillar of the community. At various times he was the President of the Sunrise Kiwanis Club, the AM Rotary Club, the Meadville Little League, and spent his last two decades as a member and then long-time President of the Economic Progress Alliance of Crawford County. In that capacity, he played an instrumental part in the continued revitalization of Conneaut Lake Park as Chairman and member of the Board of Directors. It was a point of great pride for Bill that he was able to play his part in bringing Conneaut Lake Park back from bankruptcy.
In his free time, Bill was an avid golfer who maintained a handicap below 10 for most of the last 20 years, had his first hole-in-one in his 70s, and shot his age several times. He estimated he played over 150 rounds a year; a sport that gave him immense joy and a wealth of friendships. He was a lifelong fan of country & western music, a supporter of the Republican Party, and devoted time to local mentorship programs which gave him a special joy. He was also a voracious reader and built up an impressive collection of history books and biographies. One of his points of pride was reading a biography of every US President.
He spent many of his summers on long road trips with his wife Ruth, to visit family and friends throughout the country. Later in life he became a frequent traveler to Europe, visiting over a dozen countries with Ruth. He even came to appreciate the French people after a pilgrimage to the Normandy beaches with his son Luke in 2017. And he had a special love of the mountains of Switzerland.
Bill leaves behind 70-year-old friendships in Mandan, ND, 50-year-old friendships in Greeley, Colorado, and 35-year-old friendships in Meadville, PA. He leaves behind two brothers, David of Redlands, CA, and Terry (Karen), of Mandan, ND, and countless nieces and nephews. He will be missed by friends and family who admired him for his quick and dry wit, intelligence, and generosity.
Interment will be at the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery at Fort Lincoln outside of Mandan, with full military honors. The cemetery rests on a sloping hill overlooking the Missouri River and the North Dakota prairie he and Ruth loved so much.
In lieu of flowers, Bill asked for any memorials to be in the form of a donation to the Twelve Apostles Lutheran Church, P.O. Box 640, Saegertown, PA 16433 or the Yolanda G. Barco Oncology Institute, 16792 Conneaut Lake Rd., Meadville, PA 16335.
A Celebration of Life Gathering will be Saturday, August 28, 2021 at 11:30 a.m. at the Meadville Country Club, 15955 State Hwy 86, Meadville. A luncheon will be followed by a time of sharing of memories and stories of Bill.
The arrangements have been entrusted to the ROBERT W. WAID FUNERAL HOME, 581 CHESTNUT ST., MEADVILLE where memories and condolences may be shared at www.waidfuneralhome.net
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Twelve Apostles Lutheran Church
363 Erie Street,, P.O. Box 640, Saegertown PA 16433
Yolanda G. Barco Oncology Institute
16792 Conneaut Lake Road, Meadville PA 16335