Wild Rumpus’ Tom Braun leaves legacy in Linden Hills

Tom Braun - Photo by Theo Goodell“My occupation in life is to get people to laugh,” said Tom Braun, co-founder of the children’s bookstore Wild Rumpus, in 2016.

Braun died Oct. 31. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s four years ago.

When Wild Rumpus opened in 1992, the founders aimed to create a bookstore completely different from any big box chain, securing a pet shop license to fill the store with animals.

Braun lived above the shop, and he said whenever he felt dark about the challenges of Alzheimer’s, he’d head downstairs to chat with customers and feel the good vibrations. The shop was named Bookstore of the Year in 2017 by Publishers Weekly.

“From the onset of this whole adventure, it’s just been a breathtaking, amazing experience for all of us,” Braun said.

The neighborhood will remember Braun for more than the bookstore. Braun played a role in bringing  the composting pilot program to Linden Hills as founder of Linden Hills Power and Light. The organization grew out of conversations with people like Arctic explorer Will Steger who wanted to take action on climate change. The group now reports that more than 1,000 households in Linden Hills compost, diverting an average of five tons of waste each week.

A celebration of Braun’s life is Nov. 25, 1 p.m.-3 p.m. at the Walker Art Center’s Skyline Room. On that day, the shop will remain open in his honor, and profits will go to Minneapolis Climate Action (formerly Linden Hills Power and Light), the Alzheimer’s Association and Emerge MN.

Photo by Theo Goodell