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John William Braden, Jr.

Jay Braden grew up in a military family. His father served in WWII and was recalled for duty in the Korean War. As a youth he lived in Baltimore and Fort Meade, Maryland; Tokyo, Japan; Fort Bliss, Texas; and Indianapolis, Indiana. He played Little League baseball and, in high school, wrestled and played tennis. He like board games such as chess and those involving tactics and strategy. At Purdue University he was a member of its rowing team (Crew) and the Purdue Reamer Club. College summers were spent working for the Indiana State Highway Commission. Ultimately he earned a BSCE and MSCE (soils engineering) from Purdue and an Ed.D from Florida State University. Jay's military assignments and his memories of those assignments are here.

In 1965, Jay met Bonnie Eileen Dunn, and they fell in love. They were married in a simple ceremony at Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indianapolis, and shortly they left for Fort Belvoir, Virginia, where Jay was assigned to attend the Engineer Officer Basic Course. They lived in a simple apartment not far from the base, and Bonnie made friends with other wives whose husbands were in the school. Jay did well, and graduated third in his class of about 120 other officers.

Fort Lewis, Washington.Their first assignment was at Fort Lewis, Washington, where Jay was an engineer platoon leader, and then a Battalion staff officer. They drove out to Fort Lewis in a brand new 1967 Chevrolet Chevelle that Jay's parents gave them as a wedding present. They lived in government quarters there where much of the furnishings was goverment loaned. During their stay at Fort Lewis, they had a number of other friends who were all lieutenants in the Battalion.

Vietnam. After about eight months at Fort Lewis, Jay came down on orders for Vietnam, and they traveled back across the country to Virginia, where Bonnie would be staying with her parents and attending classes at Old Dominion University. Jay served as a platoon leader for his entire 12 months in Vietnam, and was awarded the Bronze Star with V-for-Valor device when his roadbuilding platoon was attacked by the NVA.

Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana. Jay returned to the United States and he and Bonnie attended Purdue University for two years. They lived in married student housing - very modest accommodations - but with Jay now a captain, they were relatively wealthy as compared to their fellow students. During that time Bonnie earned her Bachelor of Science in Education, and Jay earned his Master's of Science in Civil Engineering and was admitted to the Chi Epsilon civil engineering honorary. They also had their first child, Karen. They actually lived in two sets of married student housing, first in a one bedroom studio and second in a two bedroom when Karen arrived.

Fort Belvoir, Virginia. Jay's next assignment was to the US Army Engineer School at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, where he taught concrete construction to classes for sergeants, lieutenants, captains, and field grade officers. Initially, they purchased a house in the Dale City, just south of the base; but when their name came up for on-base quarters, they rented out their property and moved onto Fort Belvoir. Jay and Bonnie spent a lot of time the with their friends Guy and Lenny Donaldson whom they had first met at Purdue. Bonnie and Lenny "hung out" during the day and weekends Guy and Jay would play golf together. Many times the Bradens and the Donaldsons just all socialized together. During this time Jay studied for and successfully passed the eight hour exam that enabled him to earn the designation of Professional Engineer. Fort Belvoir was also the location where Jay and Bonnie had their second daughter, Sandra.

Kasiserslautern. Germany. After about 20 months at Fort Belvoir, Jay asked his Army assignment officer about the possibility of going to Germany. So after two years of teaching, Jay's orders for Europe took him to an engineer construction support company in Kaiserslautern, Germany. There they had many friends, but probably most significant was the relationship they had among all the officers and NCOs in the company. They were all very close, and did many things, such as attending fests, as a group. There Jay and Bonnie met David and Pam Duke, a wonderful couple. During this time the company was selected as the LTG Emerson C. Itschner award winner as the best active duty engineer company in the US Army. Bonnie and Jay traveled to Washington, DC, to the annual Engineer Ball, to receive the award. Jay kept contact with his First Sergeant for many years until Al Williams died. He still stays in contact with Art Larson and Richard and Ginger Hunley.

Heidelberg, Germany. After two years, the company in Kaiserslautern was inactivated, and Jay and Bonnie moved to Heidelberg where Jay served with the office of the Deputy Chief of Staff Engineer. Heidelberg is a beautiful city, and Jay and Bonnie, along with daughters Karen and Sandra, lived in government quarters (on the third floor of course) in Mark Twain Village, right next to where Jay worked in USAREUR Headquarters at Campbell Barracks. Because it was a staff job, Jay's hours were fixed: 7:30 in the morning until 4:30 in the evening. That left a lot of family time, and the Bradens took advantage of this by visiting many locations throughout Germany, France, and Holland. Jay's parents often visited and accompanied them on these travels. Same for Bonnie's Mom. Jay's work responsibilities included the modernization program of US facilities throughout the US VII Corps. During this time Jay was promoted early to the rank of major, and the promotion party was held aboard a river cruise boat on the Heidelberg River.

Frankfurt, Germany. After just one year at this position, Jay was contacted and asked if he would like to extend his tour in Europe to serve as the Operations Officer of a combat engineer Battalion in Eschborn, just outside Frankfurt. The answer was "yes" and the Bradens moved to their third set of third story quarters. Bonnie became active in the community and opened up a nursery school. Bonnie was also president of the PTA of the local elementary school. Jay worked hard at his S3 duties, and the Bradens had many good fellowship times with Fred and Rosemarie Butler and Larry and Rosemary Bonine. After about nine months in his S3 duties, Jay was notified by the Department of the Army that he had been selected to attend Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. However, Jay was able to secure a one year deferment so he was able to serve about 20 months as a Battalion Operations Officer, and this was a good assignment.

Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. CGSC was almost a one-year vacation. (It is "billed" as the best year of your life.) The base treated CGSC students wonderfully and there were many family activities and social events to enjoy. There were over 900 students in the class, and the class was divided into sections of 60 students each. Jay was in a very good section that had an outstanding student class leader, an older armor officer who kept his students in line and ensured they maintained a good relationship with the instructors. As a result the word got around that our section was fun to teach so that motivated the instructors even more and the class benefited from it. Based on the ongoing Cold War, many of the tactical scenarios were run using maps of Germany, and it turned out that most of the scenarios involved terrain that Jay had traveled upon during his two years as an Operations Officer, so it was easy for him to relate to the tactical problems. During this time, Jay and a friend, Paul Baerman, collaborated on a number of training articles that were published in Military Review, an Army-wide monthly publication coming from Fort Leavenworth. The class did have a Marshall Award winner, as the best student overall. Jay, like about 98 percent of the other students, decided that trying to become the Marshall Award winner was not worth the effort, but Jay did earn all A's in his studies, making him one of the 22 Honor Graduates in the class.

Fort Monroe, Virginia. Jay's next assignment took him to Headquarters, Training and Doctrine Command, at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, where he served on the staff of the TRADOC Inspector General. Jay was one of the two training inspectors on the team, the other being JJ Mills. Jay and JJ got along very well. The Bradens lived in Wherry Housing, generally old and substandard quarters on base such that the Army did not even collect all of Jay's Quarters Allowance. Jay and Bonnie said they lived in ten cent quarters that had a million-dollar view of Hampton Bay. But, as always, they made friends with their neighbors and had fun with social events involving the IG staff. Early on, Jay and Bonnie had their third child, Anne. Karen and Sandra attended a nearby, but off-base, Catholic school that provided a good education. During this time Jay received his second early promotion, and he and two friends had their Promotion Party on a boat that cruised the Hampton Roads and Norfolk Bay waters. Jay was also selected to the Battalion Command list, and after two years at Fort Belvoir, the Bradens headed to Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

Fort Campbell, Kentucky. At Fort Campbell, Jay and Bonnie had a nice set of quarters and were involved socially with battalion and post activities. There their fourth child Robert was born. It was difficult being in a non-divisional battalion at the home of the 101st Airborne Division, but Jay worked hard to make the battalion a credible combat engineer respected by divisional units. Jay was selected to attend the Army War College and managed to get that postponed one year, so he had a three years as a battalion commander. He was also selected for his third below-the-zone (advanced) promotion. Bonnie and the kids thrived at Fort Campbell. There were lots of activities such as horseback riding at the base strables, recreational sports for the kids, battalion and post social gatherings, and battalion changes of command that were something like a monthly event because of the nearly 30 battalions on the post. Jay also spent time coaching youth soccer, and he and Bonnie played on an adult coed soccer league that competed in nearby Clarksville.

Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania. Jay attended the Army War College here. The family had good quarters and was close enough to the commissary that Bonnie would walk there with a wagon to carry the groceries home. There was a creek that ran through the housing area that the kids had fun floating boats in, and the recreational sports for kids at the barracks were set up very well. USAWC classes were broken down into "seminars" of about 13-15 students. The seminars were balanced as best as possible so that each seminar had an engineer, a couple of logisticians, an aviator, some infantry and armor officers, one or two artillerymen, etc. The seminars had a lot of social activities and the students and their spouses became very close. Each year the various senior service schools would get toghether for a day of friendly athletic competition, and one of the evnts was volleyball. Jay had come to love that event and joined the volleyball team that was coached by one of the USAWC faculty members, a marine colonel who was - let's say - pretty intense. The story turned our well, with the USAWC Volleyball Team winning its event, going undegfeated in the tournament.

Stuttgart, Germany. Following his schooling at the Army War College, Jay was assigned to Europe, and assumed the position of Deputy Brigade Commander of the 7th Engineer Brigade. The brigade headquarters was located in a suburb of Stuttgart called Kornwestheim. It had battalions in Aschaffenburg, Bamberg, Heilbronn, and Ettlingen, and Kornwestheim. Jim Velezis, the Brigade Commander, had his hands full with brigade and community duties so Jay watched over maintenance operations in the brigade and also spent a lot of time visiting the battalions. He got to know most of the company commanders very well, and was often invited out by them to look over aspects of their company operations. He was certainly a "frequent flyer" for the corps general aviation company that supported the brigade. Unfortunately, the quarters situation in the area was terrible, and Jay and Bonnie found themselves again in a third-floor apartment. They did make some German friends and had good times going with them for social activities such as bowling. During this time Jay had his promotion party to Colonel, and withheld on the PartieWagon, a special streetcar that traveled the streets of Stuttgart. Jay and Bonnie carried food and beverages aboard and danced as the streetcar made its way through the town. It was especially fun to see the looks we got from passengers going to and from work and shopping in regular streetcars. Jay was also assigned a special duty. He was asked to investigate a facilities engineer who supported a local community that housed the forward deployed brigade of an infantry of an infantry division. During his investigation he learned that the problem was not the facilities engineer, but the Commander, a one star general. Needless to say, this was a very sticky situation. But he completed his report and turned it in to the Corps Headquarters. Shortly thereafter, Jay moved on to his next assignment and learned that apparently nothing came of his work. At a later date he learned from the Lieutenant General who was the Corps Commander at the time that he agreed with the report but somehow got caught up in other pressing activities, and never took action against the one-star, to his regret.

Hanau, Germany. During his time with the 7th Engineer Brigade, Jay learned that he had been selected for Brigade Command. He would command the 130th Engineer Brigade that was based in Hanau and had battalions in Darmstadt, Frankfurt, and Wildflecken. As with his previous assignment, he was again a "frequent flyer" for the corps general aviation company that supported the brigade. Finally the family would have a nice set of quarters, and they were located within bicycling distance of Jay's headquarters building. The children had nice cool, and Karen played soccer on the high school team. When she graduated, she attended the University of Maryland campus in Munich. The brigade had lots of social events that were fun and also many events that evolved its German partnership unit, Pioneer Kommado III of the Third German Corps. This brigade size unit was commanded by Oberst Hans Georg Seitz, a very capable soldier. Jay and Bonnie had many good times with Hans Georg and his wife Hildegard. While in Hanau, Bonnie's mom Claire often visited and also Jay's parents, Bill and Elaine. The family had many interesting travels throughout Germany and up into Holland.

Tampa, Florida. As Jay,’s time with the 130th Engineer Brigade was coming to an end, he was contacted by the Colonels Assignment Division at the Army’s Military Personnel Center to discuss his next assignment. At that time he was willing to extend his time in Europe and, as a result, he was offered a position with the NATO Headquarters in Belgium. Unfortunately, after doing a bit of research, it turned out that it was not really a family assignment, so Jay asked MILPERCEN to look for stateside duties for him. He was offered the US Central Command Engineer position. When Jay and Bonnie discussed the offer, Bonnie asked where was Central Command, and Jay answered that it was in Tampa, Florida. Well, that was it. Bonnie loved the idea of an assignment in Florida, even though neither Jay nor Bonnie had any idea what was USCENTCOM. Jay said fine to CENTCOM but learned from MILPERCEN that he would be needed early, early to the extent that he would leave his brigade command before two years. So the answer to that proposal was an emphatic no. But soon MILPERCEN came back and asked if he would still be willing to go to CENTCOM, but with the understanding that he would initially perform some other duties until the CENTCOM Engineer position came open. Jay said yes, without even asking what these other duties might be. So eventually the family found itself flying into Tampa, Florida. (One of our first stops was to get a real American hamburger.) And the family had some difficulties to begin with. Jay had not gotten the the van to the port in Bremerhaven early enough so that it was waiting in Charleston when we arrived, so we were without transportation initially, and were in the rental car business. Further, we stayed in the Air Force Guest Quarters at MacDill Air Force Base but decided that, because of the better schools available, we wanted to be out to the East in the Brandon-Valrico area. So for many weeks, we found ourselves shuttling the kids out and back to school every day and meanwhile working with various real estate agents to try to find a place to live. Not fun. Eventually we found a home on a golf course in an area called the Buckhorn Estates. The house was still under construction, though at about the 95 percent completion rate. Therefore the bad news was that it was not move-in ready, but the good news is that we had some abilities to influence the final construction. In that latter regard, we made two good changes. We relocated a closet in what would be Karen’s bedroom that gave her a door out onto the rear lanai. And we took about three feet out of the living room area to add a wall of closets on one side of our family room. But it was not until early January that we could move in, completing a long, hard, six-week stay in temporary quarters with lots of commuting. The next step, since we were in Florida and lived on a golf course, was to have our swimming pool built. We wanted to have that done by the contractor who was building our house, but that would have delayed our move-in so we made the purchase without pool and soon went looking for a pool contractor, and we found one. We made a good decision, the siding that the pool would go from shallow to deep to shallow, and that let us put a volleyball net across the deep section and we had many fun volleyball games in that pool. We also learned a little bit about pool depth. The contractor asked us how deep we wanted our pool. While we were thinking of an answer, he told us that most people spend most of their time in the pool in water that is not deeper than chest high, and that if we had a part of the pool that was very deep then that would make most other parts of the pool deeper than chest high. We went with his advice and the deepest part of our pool was six feet, and that worked well. It turned out that I was assigned for nine months to US Special Operations Command Central, US SOCCENT. Needless to say, this was a very different kind of assignment for me, but it turned out to be a very good one. The bad news, was that my commute each day was 50 to 55 minutes, but the good news was that our Valrico community was excellent and Bonnie plugged herself into many activities and the kids adapted well to yet another move. Karen transferred to Florida State University in Tallahassee and we tried to visit her often. Sandra was active in school and we enjoyed watching her play soccer for her Bloomingdale High School team. Bonnie and Anne were active in Odyssey of the Mind, a school sponsored program, and their team did very well in local and state competition. I helped coach and coached Robert in Little League baseball, and Anne also played on a recreation league girls’ softball team. Robert was in Cub Scouts. Our family found a church: St. Andrews United Methodist Church, and we were active there. The family made some close friends from church, the Penneys, and the families even took a great vacation together to the Cherokee, North Carolina area.

Tampa, Florida. Moving from SOCCENT to CENTCOM was easy, and reduced Jay's travel time to work by 10 minutes because CENTCOM was near the entrance to the base while SOCCENT was at the other end of the airfield in a building called the Mole Hole. CENTCOM was good in that it was one of those type staff assignments where everyone went home at 5 p.m. And, of course, one could not take one's work home because it was classified. Time at CENTCOM included being deployed for Desert Shield and Desert Storm. It was hard on the kids, especially Anne, to think that her dad could be in harm's way, but Jay did get some weekly calls home courtesy of the saudi Government so that helped. It was during this time the Bonnie took on two major activities. She noted that are relatively new community in Buckhorn did not have a nearby County Park, but she learned that every new property sold by a contractor included impact fees that went to Hillsborough County for parks. However, she learned that there was nothing specific about where a park might be located. So one could be paying for a county park that was nowhere near your home. As a result, she identified a piece of property adjacent to our community and worked diligently with the Hillsborough County Parks and the Recreation Department and with Buckhorn residents to get this area approved as a County Park. To do this, she interacted with a number of County officials and also walked their 625-home community with Robert in a backpack and holding Anne by the hand to collect community signatures supporting the action. The park exists today, and it is a nice one. Bonnie also learned that the January 1991 Super Bowl that was to be held at Raymond James Stadium in downtown Tampa would include military families as part of its tribute to service people deployed for Desert Shield. So Bonnie spent many, many days driving Robert and Anne back and forth to Tampa, returning sometimes late at night.

Fort Eustis, Virginia. Jay's assignment to the Army Training Support Center at Fort Eustis, Virginia, was one of the better "family" assignments, though we missed Sandra who was at USF in Tampa. For part of our time there Karen was with us, employed doing social work nearby, but she left to live with Sandra while she attended USF to earn a Masters in Administration. Just to the north of Fort Eustis was Colonial Williamsburg, a wonderful historical tourist attraction, and we spent many times there visiting. And just outside of Williamsburg was Busch Gardens where we soon had annual passes. There were many times we got in the car and drove to Busch Gardens, just to visit the theme park, watch the people, eat an ice cream cone, and return home. Further to the north were Jay’s parents, and they visited up there on a regular basis. To the south was Virginia Beach and Norfolk with its many attractions related to the naval base and the port area. It was also a fun place to visit. Further south, about a three hour drive, was the home of Paul and Dorothy Dunn, Bonnie's brother and his wife. We enjoyed going down to the Buxton-Cape Hatteras area to visit with them and to go out with Paul fishing, and to enjoy the wonderful beaches there, and to - of course - eat some good seafood, usually caught by Paul. To the east was Yorktown and the Yorktown battlefield, that we visited often. Our quarters on base were good, but not good. They were very old, and that was not good. But they were certainly large enough for us and included a garage and were on about two acres, large enough that we were issued a riding lawn mower. We had fun in that extra large back yard, where we set up a volleyball net. We had a screened-in front porch that was ideal for scaring kids on Halloween with Jay's gorilla outfit while Bonnie roamed the front yard in her witches outfit, also scaring the kids. There were three houses in our cul-de-sac; we were in the middle. On one side were Jack and Judy Riley and their two children. Jack was the Chief of Staff of the base. On the other side was the Assistant Commandant of the Transportation School. We got along well with each other, and that was nice. At Ft. Eustis Jay and Bonnie's quarters were about two minute walk from Jay's work, though Jay drove each day "because he may need the car to do work related errands." And that excuse did not really work because Jay had a staff car and a driver. This was a time when Jay spent a lot of time with sports, especially with Robert. He coached or help coach Robert’s Little League teams and coached his soccer teams. Bonnie helped with each of these. Jay and Bonnie were also very active with the youth programs, and ran the sports activities for the weekly youth activities sponsored by the church. The kids came in and played games and other activities that Jay and Bonnie ran, and did so for about an hour, and then they went in for Bible study type activities. Jay and Bonnie enjoyed doing this very much. Jay was awarded the military's Outstanding Volunteer Service award for these type activities and Bonnie was awarded the Outstanding Civilian Service award for the wonderful things she did. This was also a time when Anne was old enough to get her driver’s license. Jay looked around and ended up buying her a 1969 VW “bug” for about $800. We called the car PIGLETT and had a license plate with that name on it. Anne not only had to learn how to drive, but had to learn how to drive on a “stick.” And, unfortunately, the car had problems. At one point a mechanic told Jay that perhaps he had just purchased a car with a bad engine and this was just to be a lesson learned. But somehow the engine kept working and the car kept running. When the family moved from Fort Eustis to Tallahassee, Jay had the privilege of driving PIGLETT, without AC, the entire distance in the summer heat.

Because Jay entered the Army in June 1967, his 30 year mandatory retirement date would have been June 1997. But that would have meant one of two things. Either the family would remain in the area and Anne would graduate from Menchville High School, or Jay would find a job in some other area, and Anne would arrive in a new school only for her senior year. So Jay elected retire in August 1996 with 29 years and two months of service, giving Anne the opportunity to spend both her junior and senior years at the same high school.

Finding a job: Military retirees often seek federal employment, many in the same areas as their military expertise and in jobs often affiliated with the military assignment they are retiring from. So if you are the Army’s expert in toilet sets you might easily secure employment with ACME Toilet Seat Contractors. Well, that was not something Jay wanted to do … so with all his operations and management experience he approached Busch Gardens - right up the road near Williamsburg. Three letters with résumés and ideas he thought might improve the efficiency and profitability of their operations. Zero responses. Jay went into the business of sending out résumés, and even hired a company to help them with this endeavor. Out went about 300 cover letters with résumés, back came about 150 “Thanks but no thanks” letters. Nothing was working. Jay tried a new strategy, and pulled together all his awards and letters of recommendation that he really had not paid a lot of attention to, and put them together into essentially a bound book. The first use of this “book” was to apply for the position of Commandant of Cadets for a military academy in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Jay and Bonnie traveled to the interview and Jay felt like he presented himself well, and did a good job answering questions; but it seemed that they were just going through the motions. This turned out to be correct as he later learned that they hired a retired two-star general. Can’t blame them, a major general beats a colonel every time.

And then Jay saw a search for The Director of Professional Development Programs at Florida State University’s Center for Professional Development (CPD). Seemed interesting, but what the job entailed it wasn’t clear. He called his potential boss, to ask for a job description and got a very bureaucratic answer. Something like, “At these higher levels of academic manage the duties and responsibilities are so broad that it is really not possible to construct such a document.” Jay delivered his thanks while wondering how the poor Army had managed to develop a pretty specific job description for when he commanded a 3,000 man forward deployed combat engineer brigade in Europe. Oh, well.

Now what? So Jay drafted his own job description, thinking that the Director of Professional Education was the person who helped the university professors with their professional studies. Wrong, he did not learn till later that this was a position in the university’s continuing education department that delivered non-credit certification programs and similar professional education programs to the community. But the large bound job application package worked, and he was offered a job interview. So Jay and Bonnie flew to Tallahassee and there Jay learned that the workforce already at CPD all had concerns about Jay being a retired Army Colonel and doing nothing but sitting back and issuing orders. At the interview, Jay assured him that he was a hands-on type person, and that just before departing for Florida he was in the process of cutting and pasting some documents that needed to go out to his command. He asked them to call his secretaries to verify this - and they did! Well, Jay got hired.

Soon after Jay learned that he had been employed by Florida State University, he and Bonnie made a trip to Tallahassee for house hunting. They found a good realtor who showed them around for a couple of days, and they found a very nice home in a community north of and about 20 to 25 minutes travel time to FSU. The community was called Ox Bottom Manor. And so Jay was on his way to becoming an FSU staff member.

Tallahassee, Florida. The move from Fort Eustis to Tallahassee was reasonably smooth. The Braden caravan, Piglett and all, made it uneventfully, if a bit slowly. The movers arrived the next day and Bonnie began settling into her new home, something she was very used to.

Interestingly, after about five days on the job Jay looked up from his office to find one of the CPD employees standing outside, looking at him. Jay asked something like, “What’s up?” He learned that he was not performing at all according to expectations, that he was - in fact - a hands-on person who was willing to get down in the trenches to learn the business and help his subordinates.

In Tallahassee Robert and Anne would go to the very well regarded the Leon High School. Robert played soccer there for his freshman year and played varsity tennis for his junior and senior years. He was active in the Leon High School Band for most of his freshman year, and he played in recreational leagues for soccer and baseball. Jay helped coach most of Robert’s soccer teams, and many of Robert's friends were on these teams. We had fun practices and enjoyed our games very much. Anne played varsity softball for Leon and High School and did well. In November of 1996 Sandra married Steve Roberts and their home was in Brandon. The wedding was a very nice affair and they began house hunting, ultimately finding a good buy in a small community near the intersection of Lumsden Road and St Cloud Avenue in Valrico.

Jay and Bonnie enjoyed the university atmosphere. The whole family had season tickets for the football games. Anne lived in a dorm on campus and later became a member and ultimately the vice president of the Phi Mu sorority, and did very well with her responsibilities there. She enjoyed being with her sorority sisters. The Braden family enjoyed Tallahassee. Jay and Bonnie had a pool and a pool screen added onto their home. They purchased a jet ski and used it on a nearby lake. Tallahassee was also a reasonably two hour drive to Panama City Beach, a three and a half hour drive to visit Robert when he began attending Georgia Tech, and not that far from a six mile skate path along an abandoned railroad trail that led to the small village of St Marks on the St Marks River that ultimately fed Apalachee Bay, a small part of the Gulf of Mexico, At St Marks we would buy lunch or some snacks and then head back. A nice benefit of working for FSU was that Jay, as a staff member, got to use university facilities and he played racquetball at their very nice student Rec Center with its excellent courts on a regular basis. Even better was a community Rec Center not far from there Meadow Ridge home it also had a racquetball court that Jay used occasionally.

The Dean of Continuing Education was Robert Simerly, a great man and an author of many books on continuing education. Dr. Simerly met often with his staff to help them understand the continuing education process and how they might better perform in their various capacities. CPD provide program Administrators (course assistants) for both graduate course that students take towards earning a graduate degree and non=credit continuing education programs that persons take to earn professional certifications (as with Microsoft) or simply for professional development, as in an Effective Writing course. Each of those programs had its special challenges.

Now a bit of digressing and a little bit of opinion.
  • University graduate and Executive Management programs portray themselves as elite and difficult to gain admission to. This is because they sell their graduates as a very valuable commodity. “With an FSU (MBA )(Executive Management Certificate) you can …" The fact is, for most universities, that they work hard to fill their graduate programs. However, an MBA program might be conducted with as few as 8 students and as many as 20 …. the faculty members teaching the program don’t care (except for the extra grading work) and the Program Administrators get paid so long as there are enough students to conduct classes. Of an Executive Management course doesn’t recruit enough students for a class … well, no extra pay for the faculty, no loss of pay for COB administrators, and there is always next time.
  • Non-credit programs have to be built based on analyses of community interests. A new program, even with the best possible research, preparation, and advertising; can fail to even get out the gate. While an MBA class might be conducted for just eight students, it might take 12 students to “break even” on a non-credit program. Register less than 12 and one has to decide whether to cancel the class or run it at a loss with hopes of doing better next time. So in most cases it takes about 18 months and/or about three program iterations to determine if you have something … or not. Sometimes it takes 18 months and a couple of iterations before learning wether or not a course or program will run. And sometime courses are unexplainably good with lots of students and six mionths later are unexplainably bad with not enough enrollments to run the course.

Not long after starting at FSU and with the encouragement of Dr. Simerly, Jay began his doctoral program in the College of Education seeking an Ed.D. His major professor was Dr. Beverly Bowers. It turned out that for FSU, staff members were allowed to take up to six credit hours per semester without charge. So Jay’s only costs were books, and they were more than adequately covered by Jay’s G.I. Bill entitlement funds. The classes tended to be lots of group discussions, and Jay often was appointed to be the record keeper, probably based on his engineering background and ability to pick out salient points in any discussion. Jay got along well with his classmates and enjoyed the program, which generally required two evenings a week. Jay completed his credit hour course work in December 1995 and began work on his dissertation. He had learned something that many doctoral students do not realize: that the dissertation is more of a learning exercise than an endeavor in academic research. The key is to generate a hypothesis that requires research just on the border of all previous research in the particular area, and to keep the focus of the dissertation very, very narrow. One wants to stay close to previous research because that provides the basis for the biographical studies that form the foundation for what one is trying to accomplish. There are many areas of interest that a doctoral student may want to pursue, but these are in areas where previously documented and verified research is absent. If a doctoral student has his or her heart set on studying in one of these outlying areas, that's fine for the future, but for the present find a dissertation subject close to previous research.

Jay’s dissertation subject involved “Online Education at Florida Rural Community Colleges.” His research took him to four colleges not far from FSU. There, in each community college, he found a staff member willing to help him with his surveys. Their ability to encourage their fellow faculty members to answer the survey questions was of immeasurable benefit to Jay’s research. During this process Jay learned that he was a scholarship winner because of his dissertation subject regarding online learning. If the truth be known, Jay had, at the time, the only dissertation project regarding online learning, and his major professor, Dr. Bowers, submitted him. Well, the award for this honor was $300, and Jay promptly divided that by four and sent $75 in gift cards to each of the community college staff members that it helped him so much. Jay also noted that once data is collected, it needs to be manipulated statistically, not necessarily an easy task. But he learned that the "dissertation rules" allow students to get help with preparing the statistical argument to support the hypothesis; though the student needs to make the argument himself or herself. So Jay found an individual who is very good at this and helped him putting together his data in the proper format. During this process, Jay asked on a couple of occasions if the data he collected could be used to expand some of his discussions. In each case he was told firmly no. He was told that he had essentially a contract with his major professor to answer the question that he posed in his hypothesis, and that he needed to stick simply to answering this question. This was great advice, and in August 1996 Jay successfully defended his dissertation and therefore earned a Doctorate in Education. (Afterward he presented his statistics counseling a nice monetary thank you gift.) Concurrently with Jay’s studies, daughter Anne was completing her degree, with a Bachelor of Science in Humanities. It turned out that in December of that year Jay and Anne each received their degrees in the same graduation ceremony, and the President of FSU actually recognized them, having them both stand to receive applause for their accomplishments.

Valrico, Florida. Although the Braden family loved Tallahassee and their association with Florida State University, their goal was to return to Tampa where both Karen and Sandra were living at the time. In 1992 when they had moved from the home in Valrico to go to Fort Eustis, they rented out their Brianholly Drive house and over the years had varying degrees of success with renters. So with his degree nearly complete Jay began job hunting with the goal of finding something in Tampa. What he found was not something in Tampa, but in the (Disney) town of Celebration, just outside of Kissimmee. He had again used the strategy of submitting a large application package with various cetificates, military awards, etc. included. That got him a telephone interview with the Director of the Stetson Center, Ron Clifton, who was seeking a Deputy Director. The interview was good, but Jay did not get the job. Instead, he was called back and offered the job as the Center's Director of Professional Development, a job similar to what he had at Florida State University. So Jay w3as hired without even visiting the place where he would work for the next 12 years.

As small note on selling the Braden home in Tallahassee. Jay went back to the realty team he used in purchasing the home five years earlier. Together they set a price on the home that allowed for the asking price to come down in negotiations yet that provided for a very respectable profit. Later, Jay learned that the realtor team had inadvertently not included him paying some portion of real estate taxes in calculating the potential net profit on the home. Jay was not happy and conveyed that to the realty team, who was very apologetic. Jay said okay but he was still unhappy. So when the realty team called shortly after the house went on the market and said they had an offer, this was good. The offer was about eight thousand dollars less that the asking price, something that had been factored into selling price. Yet Jay, still a bit hot, said NO and the conversation ended very quickly. But, guess what, the offeror came back with the full listing price. Ta Dah!!

It turned out that the Stetson University Board of Directors had wrestled with whether or not to open a one-building campus in the Town of Celebration. They intended to conduct graduate programs in business, education, and counseling, and evidently wanted how to draw a number of students who were employees of Disney and therefore reimbursed for their education. This turned out to be a good plan that worked and was very profitable. There was also some interest in conducting continuing education programs that were in the realm of non-credit courses that would be taken to earn recognized industry certificates or for the professional education of individuals and businesses. This is what Jay was hired to do. Of course, the establishment of continuing education courses is much more complicated than establishing graduate courses. Graduate courses have an approved curriculum and faculty members from the main campus in Deland who can be recruited to drive to the Celebration Campus one or two nights a week to teach and to earn additional money. But for continuing education, markets have to be found, advertising plans have to be established, courses have be written, textbooks and other materials have to be provided, and persons to teach the programs have to be identified and hired. And building course from zero is a time consuming job. But somehow Jay happened to get linked up with a Brit who was already conducting Microsoft courses but really needed to do so under the credibility of an organization like Stetson. All of a sudden the problem was solved with a profit sharing arrangement that made money from the very start and ran well for years.

Since their home in Valrico did not have renters at that time, Bonnie and Jay elected to move back into that home and have Jay commute for a while until they were ready for a relocation to the Orlando area. That commute to and from Stetson University lasted 11 years. Each way was a 59-mile drive and took one hour 15 minutes to drive. During those 11 years, Jay was able to work from home for a portion of that time and only needed to drive in three days a week, but during those 11 years Jay estimated that he put well over 300,000 miles on a couple of cars. But the workday at Stetson did not begin until 9 AM and was over between 4:30 and 5 PM so the total number of hours that he was away from home was actually less than the hours he put in during most of his Army duty assignments.

About 1 1/2 years after moving back into Valrico, Bonnie and Jay thought that they would be in the position of having Bonnie's mother come live with them, as she was in not the best of health and needed some care. At about this time daughter Sandra noted at home within the same Buckhorn Estates community that was for sale but was 800 more square feet in size, had a larger lanai, had 3 1/2 baths instead of just two, and had a large fifth bedroom that would become an excellent study. So Bonnie and Jay put their Brianholly home up for sale and were amazingly fortunate to have a buyer who was part of a corporate relocation and was willing to pay the asking price – no haggling. So the family moved about 800 feet as the crow flies to another home in the same community and also on the golf course. It turned out that Bonnie's mom came and lived with them for only about a month and then decided that she would really needed to be near her daughter in Ormond Beach so "Gigi’s Room" served as the grandkids toy room for the rest of the time that Jay and Bonnie lived in the home.

In February of 2012 Jay ended his employment with Stetson to become fully retired. He then could be full time at grandfathering, traveling with Bonnie, continuing with racquetball, and joining a local men's golf association, where he was elected to the Board to serve as the Secretary. He also continued to be the Webmaster for his community association and - in 2010 - began writing the first of his fictional novels based on his Vietnam experiences. Later, he completed the sequel to his first novel in 2016. Jay and Bonnie’s dream of retirement was shattered when, in January 2014, Bonnie was diagnosed within operable Stage IV brain cancer, that led to her death in June of that year. Those four months were just terrible, and Jay will never forget a night in perhaps April of that year when Bonnie said, "I thought we would grow old together."

The next 2 1/2 years were characterized by Jay trying to deal with Bonnie's death. Bonnie loved the color purple so Jay got rid of almost all his shirts that were not that color and bought a closet full of various shades and style purple shirts that he wore every day. He contemplated what the rest of his life would be like without his beloved Bonnie.

But Jay began seeing Joyce Pollicina whom he knew casually from a number of years before. And though Jay could not believe he would ever be involved in a relationship with any other woman on earth, Jay and Joyce fell in love and were married in April of 2018.

They moved into a very nice rental property in Brandon in July of that year and moved again in July of 2019 into a home they bought in Valrico.