"Dad, we need to help those kids. Where do they live?"
"Well, they live in the streets!"
Dr. Jim Gollogly
Braxton Stuntz died in a tragic accident along the California coast on January 12, 2019, at 18 years of age.
Braxton was born and raised in Carmel, California. In many ways, he had an idyllic childhood in the beautiful beach town. We didn't worry so much about what trouble he could get into, but rather how he would grow up to be a kind and contributive member of society. He attended Miss Mindy's preschool at the Church of the Wayfarer in Carmel and then Stevenson school from Kindergarten through high school. He never missed a day of school ever. He was intelligent and inquisitive and made the most of the social and academic activities available to him. At age 17, he started college at The University of San Diego, as a pre-med majoring in Biology.
Braxton was a diligent student and a hard worker. He always had a job of some sort. As early as seven years old he had a business making homemade pasta, lemonade stands and wrote his own neighborhood newspaper. He always had an internet side hustle making Geocaches, stickers, and Geofilters for Snapchat. He liked children and was a summer camp counselor, including several years at the White Stag Leadership camp. He started working in his father's medical office at age 14, progressing in responsibility each year. As soon as he was old enough, he volunteered at the local hospital (CHOMP).
Braxton enjoyed scouting from age 11 to 17. The Carmel Valley Scout Troop 127 provided a backdrop of integrity, taught him respect for others, and how to give to one's community, along with many other skills. We learned that he and Aiden built a footbridge in the woods after he saw people getting wet in the mud. He achieved the highest honor in scouting, the rank of Eagle Scout, in his final year.
He was involved in charitable pursuits from early on. Every year he chose gifts for the toy barrel at Christmas time and gave one or more of his own gifts away. He once won a stuffed animal at an arcade, and turned to a young girl and gave it to her.
After his death, we learned that he and Imogene would make care packages for homeless people and distribute them around the holidays. He more than once donated blood to the American Red Cross, again never telling us.
Braxton had many interests. His lifelong interests included photography, languages, and travel. We were unaware until after his death, that he enjoyed ink pen sketching. We found two books full of intricate works, demonstrating his patient character. A few of the sketches are in the video. He loved language and often stated he had a goal of mastering five languages. He was fluent in Spanish. He had a nanny that only spoke Spanish to him from early on. He then took Spanish through elementary and upper school. After mastering Spanish, he started taking Italian in his first year at University. Braxton had the heart of an artist. He had a natural ability in photography and drawing. He found a love for photography at the age of ten while earning the photography Boy Scout merit badge. He bought his own camera from the money he earned. This camera was never far from Braxton. He loved the outdoors and traveling all over the world accumulating a large catalog of pictures. From a young age he traveled annually to Italy in the summer, and it became a favorite place for him. It was through travel with his father abroad when he was old enough that gave Braxton a new lens perspective on the real world. He traveled around the world (literally) twice, while visiting Cambodia to work as a relief volunteer. When he left Cambodia after working in a children's hospital, he stated that he wanted to help the kids that lived on the streets.
Braxton might have been considered a shy child and young man, but he was definitely not insecure. He had a quiet, happy demeanor and enjoyed making others laugh. He was also a very thoughtful person, always helping his friends out with homework or personal problems. He had many friends and touched many people in a positive way. He never had to be the best nor did he strive to be the most popular kid. He was almost universally loved by his peers. He had a charitable and giving spirit, even to those he didn’t know. He always brought back trinkets and gifts from his travels for his friends. He loved animals of any kind, and would never kill one for sport or convenience. He truly would not kill a fly.
Braxton worked hard at school and decided he wanted to be a surgeon. He never actually told us this and we never swayed him one way or another. He was becoming a man and we allowed him to make his own decisions. Sometimes he learned from his mistakes but he was never trouble to us. He decided on the University of San Diego. He loved the school, made friends immediately, and left a lasting impression.
We could not have asked for more having Braxton as a son. Our bond was strong. We had weekly "family meetings", discussing events, issues, and how we were all doing in general. Every year we three went to Italy together. We loved going to excavations, climbing medieval clock towers, visiting museums and taking pictures of it all. These vacations allowed us time to fully focus on being with each other, away from the daily responsibilities of life. He was very comfortable being around different types of people and environments. He was an expert in navigating a trip.
We and so many others will never forget Braxton Stuntz and his short life, but he had an incredibly huge impact on this world. This Foundation serves as an extension of his thoughts and actions. He leaves behind a legacy of kindness and role modeling for his generation. He and his spirit will be greatly missed, but hopefully through this charity, never forgotten.
Michael and Ruth Stuntz Goodbye dear Brax. We will never forget you.