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Willmar High grad killed in motorcycle crash

WILLMAR –– A 2011 Willmar High School graduate who excelled in academics, band and choir and was studying at the University of Minnesota to prepare for a career in music  was killed Thursday when his motorcycle collided with a car.

Robert Brau, 21, of Willmar, died in a two-vehicle, head-on crash in Wright County, according to the Minnesota State Patrol.

The accident happened at 9:45 a.m. Thursday on U.S. Highway 12 on the edge on Montrose when an east-bound Chevy Impala driven by a 17-year-old female crossed the center line of Highway 12 and struck Brau’s motorcycle, which was going west on Highway 12.

Brau died at the scene of the accident, according to the State Patrol.

Because criminal charges may be filed in the case, the State Patrol said the name of the driver of the car will not be released until the investigation is completed.

Brau is the only child of Terry and Donna Brau of Willmar.

Terry Brau has been the band instructor at Willmar Senior High School for 34 years.

“We’re at a loss of words to describe the grief we’re feeling for the family,” said Senior High School Principal Paul Schmitz on Friday.

Word of Robert Brau’s death has been “devastating,” he said.

Brau was studying music at the University of Minnesota, where he was also listed as a member of the school’s marching band.

Schmitz said that Robert Brau was an exceptional high school student who excelled in all academic areas and had the “academic ability” to pursue a career in science or engineering.

But it was apparently the “love of music and his love of education” that was drawing him to a career in music performance, or possibly teaching music, said Schmitz.

Besides having a father who made music a career, Brau’s grandfather was also a professional musician.

“Robert was a top-notch student,” said Schmitz. “He was a student who took all our upper level classes.”

Schmitz said that although Brau was a “soft-spoken” high school student, he was “part of an amazing jazz band and an amazing small choir ensemble” where he took leadership roles that earned him the respect of his fellow students and teachers.

“Everyone in the school will be grieving with the family,” said Schmitz.

Brau was killed while returning to Willmar from Minneapolis, according to an email sent Friday to members of Vinje Lutheran Church in Willmar.

Donna Brau is the director of Loving Arms Child Care Center located at Vinje, where Terry Brau also regularly provides Sunday morning music.

“Please keep Donna and Terry in your prayers,” said the email from the Rev. Chad Peterson.

 Funeral arrangements for Robert Brau are pending with the Peterson Brothers Funeral Home of Willmar.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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