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Archive for Friday, June 8, 2012

Junction City businessman Ron Bramlage had many ties to Lawrence

June 8, 2012, 11:40 a.m. Updated June 8, 2012, 5:57 p.m.

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Bella Oman, left, and her mother, Sabine Omann, right, lay flowers outside the home of the Ron and Rebecca Bramlage and their four children, Thursday, June 7, 2012, in Junction City, Kan. The family died when their small aircraft crashed in central Florida, and Bella Omann was a middle school classmate of two of the Bramlage children.

Bella Oman, left, and her mother, Sabine Omann, right, lay flowers outside the home of the Ron and Rebecca Bramlage and their four children, Thursday, June 7, 2012, in Junction City, Kan. The family died when their small aircraft crashed in central Florida, and Bella Omann was a middle school classmate of two of the Bramlage children.

Friends and neighbors of Ron and Rebecca Bramlage and their four children leave flowers and other items at the fence of their home to honor them after their deaths, Thursday, June 7, 2012, in Junction City, Kan. The family died in a Florida plane crash.

Friends and neighbors of Ron and Rebecca Bramlage and their four children leave flowers and other items at the fence of their home to honor them after their deaths, Thursday, June 7, 2012, in Junction City, Kan. The family died in a Florida plane crash.

— Ron Bramlage, a prominent Junction City businessman who was killed in a plane crash on Thursday along with his wife and their four young children, had ties to the Lawrence area, attending Lawrence High School in the mid-1980s.

Bramlage was the stepson of John Wertzberger, a former Kansas University football player who became an orthopedic surgeon at several area hospitals and worked for the KU athletics department as a team physician. Wertzberger was married to Bramlage’s mother, Patricia, from 1984 until his death in 2006.

Ken Wertzberger, a Lawrence resident and physician who was John Wertzberger’s brother, would see Bramlage and his family each year around Christmas and Thanksgiving.

“They were just really nice people,” he said. “Even though he was successful, it didn’t go to his head. It’s a big loss.”

Jim Beltch was Ron’s wrestling coach when Ron attended Lawrence High School in the early 1980s. He kept up with the family through the years while serving as a referee in matches involving Bramlage’s children. He remembered him as a quiet and polite kid who turned into a good man whose family was always the most important thing in his life.

“He was one of the most genuine people I know and a great father,” Beltch said.

The single-turboprop, fixed-wing plane broke apart and went down about 12:30 p.m. Thursday in the Tiger Creek Preserve, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office in Florida. The 4,900-acre preserve is about 50 miles southwest of Orlando. Deputies reached the area by helicopters, and it was clear no one survived, the sheriff’s office said.

Bramlage, a 45-year-old businessman in Junction City who owned Roadside Ventures LLC, was piloting the 2006 Pilatus Pc-12/47. His wife, Rebecca, 43, and the couple’s children — Brandon, 15, Boston, 13, Beau, 11, and Roxanne, 8 — were killed, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office said. The family was returning home to Junction City from the Bahamas.

Ron was the grandson of the late Fred Bramlage, a 1935 graduate of Kansas State and a Junction City businessman. Fred Bramlage was the lead contributor to the construction of Bramlage Coliseum, an arena that opened in 1988 and is home to the Kansas State men’s and women’s basketball teams.

The Rev. Al Brungardt, pastor of St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Junction City, where the family attended weekly Mass, said Friday he has been getting several calls asking for guidance.

Parishioners want to know “how do I tell my kids,” Brungardt said. “I mean, they were always a very happy family. Roxanne had her First Communion recently, the youngest one, and wrote me a letter afterward.”

Brungardt said it’s unclear when or where the family’s funeral will be but that it may require a much larger venue than his church, which holds about 500 people. He said he has not yet heard from other family members about how they want to proceed with funerals.

Parishioners want to know “how do I tell my kids,” Brungardt said. “I mean, they were always a very happy family. Roxanne had her First Communion recently, the youngest one, and wrote me a letter afterward.”

“I think they were people of service and with the kids being involved in their schools and wrestling,” the services will draw a large crowd, he said. “The family is going to decide,” he said.

“We have to pray to the Holy Spirit will get us through this,” he said. “Give me strength and wisdom that I don’t have.”

Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Comments

cheeseburger 2 years, 6 months ago

For reasons of seating capacity and sentimentality, perhaps they will consider having services at Bramlage Coliseum.

countrygirl 2 years, 6 months ago

Seems a very fitting solution to a very sad problem. Prayers go out to the family and friends.

MADatLJW 2 years, 6 months ago

Great idea cheeseburger. Ronnie and his family would deserve that. He lived in Lawrence for about 2 1/2 years and made a lot of friends. I know a lot of people here that want to attend the service. Ronnie was one heck of a great guy.

kufan1146 2 years, 6 months ago

Never once thought I'd say this, but FYI, all of us down here in Jayhawk country are feeling your pain. Nothing sucks more than losing an amazing donor family. At the end of the day, we're all Kansans. For once in my life, I'll say it: Go Cats, RIP Bramlage family.

Jayhawk_4_Life 2 years, 6 months ago

who cares that they were a donor family...they meant a lot to both the Lawrence and Manhattan communities for more reasons than their money...Very Sad, RIP.

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