Thomas W. Braum

Distinguished Alumnus
Thomas W. Braum
Serra Catholic High School, Class of 1965

Thomas W. Braum is a 1965 graduate of Serra. Catholic institutions paved the way for Tom, beginning with his birth at Mercy Hospital. His mom had been a nursing student when she met his dad, a Duquesne University student. Tom began his early years of education at St. Clare of Assisi School in
Clairton. It was difficult financially to support seven children and send Tom to Serra, but his father was determined to provide him with the best education possible. Tom then attained his Mechanical Engineering Degree and MBA at University of Detroit Jesuit. He finished his academic pursuits with a Masters of Telecommunications at the University of Denver and recently achieved his Third Degree in the Knights of Columbus.

After serving his country as a commissioned officer in the Coast Guard, Tom spent 13 years working in the auto industry in Detroit. When the economic turmoil of the 70’s and 80’s occurred, Tom worked tirelessly for and was laid off from all of the Big Four: GM, Ford, Chrysler, and Volkswagen of America. He moved into the telecommunications industry & MCI after having enough of the layoffs. He moved his family to Denver in 1985 with high career expectations. Although Tom continued his “workaholic” habits and educational pursuits, he again suffered job re-positioning until he was “let go” at age 50, a part of the Worldcom acquisition of MCI. A severance and 14 years of stock options softened that final blow.

It was at this time that Tom had the good fortune and vision to start a small private family foundation. This has allowed him and his wife, Marion, to make grants to needy people and organizations that they encounter in their travels. They support churches, schools and orphanages in Haiti, Ghana and on a Sioux reservation. They also support Catholic radio programs for Hispanics and a Catholic radio station in Nome Alaska and are involved with feeding the homeless programs, Habitat for Humanity chapters and, of course, Serra Catholic High School. His wife Marion says, “Our checkbook looks like the litany of the saints.” This foundation is one of Tom’s most gratifying accomplishments.

Although family is very important to Tom, there were many years where he only spent time with his wife and three daughters on Sundays after a 60-hour work week and hours of graduate school studies. Tom gives his wife, Marion, much credit for their daughters’ success. Each have graduated from college and attained jobs in their career fields. Tom and Marion have four grandchildren whom they visit when their “home on wheels” is parked in Colorado. For the last eight years they have lived in a 40’ Motor Coach traveling the country. They say “Home is where we park it.” The two have traveled as far north as Fairbanks, Alaska and south to Mexico City. They spend winter in Breckenridge, Colorado, guiding “older” skiers in a “50+” ski program which they coordinate. They build Habitat for Humanity houses as they travel and have worked in New Orleans after Katrina and in Joplin, Missouri after the tornado last year. Working in Joplin was their first experience volunteering with Catholic Charity after a disaster.

Tom began working with Diane DiNardi in the late 90’s and helped start Serra’s website. He supported the site until this summer when Serra moved to Google’s platform. Based on the hardships his parents endured to put him and his siblings through Catholic Schools, he would love to see more scholarship funds available to deserving students. He believes that they, too, will benefit from the life-long values that come with a Catholic school education. Serra is proud to include Tom as one of this year’s Distinguished Alumni.