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Robert Joseph Brau, 21 – MN

Robert Joseph Brau, 21, was killed by a distracted driver near Montrose, MN on Thursday, August 14, 2014. The distracted driver veered into oncoming traffic, hitting Robert on his motorcycle, killing him instantly. A witness driving a semi-truck  said he saw the driver on an “electronic device”, while the driver insisted she was reaching in the backseat to get her work uniform. The force of the crash threw Robert  over 30 feet from the point of impact, dislodged his full-face helmet and armored gloves, and threw him out of his protective boots. He never had a chance.

Robert was an only child and from his first days, he found joy in so many things. He was inquisitive and bright and ready for exploration, excited, soothed and intrigued by music, always happy, always busy, and always hungry. He found his way into the hearts of all who met him quickly and firmly. Robert loved to be busy and he loved spending time with friends and family. He genuinely seemed to enjoy hanging out with Mom and Dad, especially when that time included anything musical – listening, playing or recording. His musical pursuits included piano, cello, trumpet, French horn, acoustic and electric guitar and bass, and he had a beautiful bass singing voice. He also loved to sail, bike, hike, and read. He loved water sports and was creative in many ways. All of his closest friends often describe him as their personal “best friend”.

He was a 2011 High Honors Graduate of Willmar Senior High School and while there participated in every musical group available to him, including all of the band and choir ensembles and small groups, the orchestra, musicals pit orchestras, and Pep and Jazz bands. He started swimming as a small child and became a very dedicated and accomplished member of the WHS Swim Teams. Upon graduation Robert received many awards including the “AAA Award for Excellence in Academics, Arts and Athletics” and many college scholarships.

After graduation, Robert was accepted at the University of Minnesota and began studies in science and music. He was exuberant and honored to be selected as a member of the University of Minnesota Marching Band in 2011 and became part of the leadership team for the 2013 and 2014 seasons. He often referred to the Marching Band as his “Away from Home Family”.  As a college sophomore, he decided to focus on his passion which was music and he was accepted into the University’s School of Music and officially declared his major in Classical Guitar Performance. His plan was to earn his PhD, to become a college professor and to both teach and perform on guitar. His dreams had really just begun.  (Read more about Robert and view more photos here.)

Robert’s parents, Donna and Terry Brau have established the Robert J. Brau Family Foundation dedicated to helping children and families. They work to raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving which includes an annual “Ride for Robert” each August.