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John Alden Bragg, 93
OBIT - John Bragg for SUNDAY original

John Alden Bragg, 93, passed away Aug. 19, 2018.

He was born to the late John Roy Bragg and Chloe Adcock Bragg.  He was preceded in death by his wife, Jane Crane Bragg and sister Virginia Roy “Joy” Bragg. 

His paternal and maternal ancestors were among the early settlers of Middle Tennessee, having come from Virginia and North Carolina when Tennessee first reached statehood. Mr. Bragg’s younger years were spent at his family home in McMinnville and on his father’s nursery/ farm, Cumberland Valley Nurseries, where he worked as a boy. He attended McMinnville city schools, graduated from Sewanee Military Academy, and was inducted into the Army during World War II. In January 1944, he was sent to New Caledonia, in the South Pacific, to become a member of the 147th Regimental Infantry Group, which was attached for much of the war to the Marine Corps. Its mission was to follow the Marines as they invaded islands in the Pacific Theater, and to secure each island, bringing it to garrison status. 

During his time in the Pacific War, Mr. Bragg was engaged in three major battle campaigns: the Admiralty Islands, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. For this service he was awarded three battle stars, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge and the Bronze Star.  In 2001, for his service in World War II, Mr. Bragg became the 11th recipient of the Dr. Joe Nunley Memorial Award, presented at MTSU to a distinguished Veteran of World War II, who is known also for his service to others.  Returning from the war, Mr. Bragg went to the University of the South at Sewanee, TN, graduating with honors. He was a member of the Order of the Gownsmen, of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity and of the Red Ribbon Society. He did his graduate work at the University of Virginia and at MTSU. 

In 1950, he joined the faculty of Battle Ground Academy as an English, Spanish and history teacher, and as a tennis coach. In that same year, a college fraternity brother introduced him to Octavia Jane Crane of Mt. Pleasant, TN, whom he married at the end of the school term. In 1955, the couple had a daughter, Rebecca, their only child. Mr. Bragg would spend his adult career at Battle Ground Academy, a span of 40 years. At that time, it was the longest tenure in the history of the school. After serving as teacher, department chairman and assistant headmaster, he was elected in 1969 as the academy’s ninth headmaster and held that position until he retired in 1990. During his administration he put the school in sound financial condition for the first time in its history, creating, with his board’s approval, a substantial endowment; he changed the school from a boarding/ day school operation to a day school; he reinstituted coeducation after a 50 year absence; he dramatically increased the enrollment, enlarged the faculty and staff, remodeled buildings, built new ones, and introduced many new and noteworthy educational programs. 

In 1988, the Tennessee Association of Independent Schools recognized Mr. Bragg for his Outstanding Contribution to Education. In 1990, the Franklin Lions Club named John Bragg its Educator of the Year. Also in 1990, Tennessee Gov. Ned Ray McWherter awarded him with a citation for his “40 years of faithful service to, and in the best interests of, the highest traditions of the state of Tennessee.” In 1998, the BGA Board of Trustees dedicated the English and History building on the new campus as Bragg Hall, honoring both John and Jane Bragg. Mr. Bragg had long sought more regional and national recognition for BGA and he succeeded in the 1960s by helping showcase the academy’s annual Tug of War on NBC’s Huntley and Brinkley national news program.  He did so again at the Academy’s Centennial Celebration in 1989, when Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Tip O’Neill, gave the commencement address: all three of the major nation networks covered the event in Franklin.  Continuing the school’s Centennial Celebration, Mr. Bragg appeared with his student body on ABC’s “Good Morning America” program, standing on the school quadrangle, shouting to the nation “Good Morning America from Battle Ground Academy in Franklin, TN.” This was played throughout the news media in the nation. 

That year he also instituted the Faculty Hall of Fame and the Sports Hall of Fame. John Bragg’s retirement years were spent at his Franklin home and at his home on the Tennessee River, where he enjoyed fishing and hunting, his lifelong passions. He held membership at First Franklin United Methodist Church, where he served for a time on its Board of Stewards. He was a member of the Hiram Masonic Lodge No. 7, the Scottish Rite, and the Al Menah Shrine. He was a member of and past president of Franklin Noon Rotary Club, and a Paul Harris Fellow. He also served on the Williamson County Chamber of Commerce. 

Since early childhood, John Bragg had been a constant reader. In later life he read fiction, the classics, mysteries, historical novels, biographies, and autobiographies, rode his motor scooter on a regular basis throughout Franklin and Williamson County, and kept up with his grandchildren’s lives, but always he was interested in Battle Ground Academy, his school, where he spent his adult life. His friend and former student, Dr. Robert Foote of Hartland, Vt., wrote a poem on the eve of the Academy’s Centennial Celebration, describing the 100 years of love and labor of its students. The following lines depict not only their feelings, but John Bragg’s as well:

When we
Decades hence are gone
And all we treasure
Dissipated with our prejudice
And son and daughter come
To take the measure of our century,
Let them say this: “They strove
For honor, they hoped for grace,
Their struggles are written
In this rich place

Among Mr. Bragg’s survivors are daughter, Mrs. Rebecca Bragg (Marc) McNamee, grandson David Bragg (Elizabeth) McNamee, granddaughter Jane Crane McNamee, great-grandson Marc Raymond McNamee, and numerous nephews, nieces, and cousins.  The family wishes to express its sincere thanks to the staff of NHC Place - Cool Springs and Alive Hospice for their loving care and attention to Mr. Bragg. 

A Celebration of Life Service will be conducted 3 p.m., Aug. 27, at First United Methodist Church, 120 Aldersgate Way, Franklin, TN  37069, and visitation with the family will be 12:30 to 3 p.m. at the church.  Honorary pallbearers are: the BGA Board of Trustees, past and present; all students of classes of 1950 through 1990; all faculty and staff from the same period; Douglas and Jan Darby, Robert and Harriet Sewell, Douglas and Julie Fisher, Patricia Charron, Tom and Charlotte Cone, Bob and Gerri Steltjes, Glenn Adams, Harry Lee Billington, David Wood, Billy Grimes, Bill Cherry, Bill Armistead, Bob Armistead, Eleana McCoy, Thomas P. Bragg, Ellen Finney, Padge Beasley, Charles H. Warfield, Richard Tippens, Nick McCall, Rob Foote, Anne Rutherford, Larry Stumb, Tom Taylor, Skipper Phipps, Jimmy Patterson, Irwin McKee, Tom McKee, Warren York, John Colton, John Oxley, James Beard, Larry McElroy, Charlie Brown, William (Bunny) Akin, Bill Ramsey, Glenda Marshall, Carol Sensing, Kevin Smith, Dudley West, Anne Clark Foster, Jan Buckner Herbert, Cathy Buckner Hoover, Martha Buckner, Sheila Fleming, Jimmy Rippey, Margaret Callihan, John B. Lynch Jr., Dan Parsons and Harriett Keyes. Memorials may be made to the BGA Endowment Fund or First United Methodist Church.

Williamson Memorial Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements, (615) 794-2289, www.williamsonmemorial.com.

Southern Standard
(McMinnville, Tenn.) Aug. 26, 2018