William “Bill” V. Branton, 84, died Nov. 1, 2013 in Wichita Falls, Texas. A memorial service was Nov. 5, 2013 with full military honors. The interment will be at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, March 22, 2014 at the Kelley Cemetery in Thomasville. Arrangements are under the direction of O’Byant Chapel of Thomasville.
Branton was born Feb. 10, 1929 in Fouke, Miss. to the late Lily Mae and Carl Lee Branton. He grew up in the Thomasville area and graduated from Thomasville High School in 1947. In 1949, at the age of 19, he enlisted in the United States Air Force. Starting out as an airplane mechanic and moved up to airplane mechanic instructor, to computer programmer to Maintenance Analyst Superintendent for Strategic Air Command. He retired in 1975 as a Chief Master Sergeant.
In 1949, he and Rebecca Sheffield were married. Their first child, William “Dennis” was born in 1950 and their second, Deborah, was born in 1952. On July 20, 1953 while on a remote tour of duty (no family) in Thule Greenland, the C-47 that he was on crashed. He spent almost a year in the hospital. In 1954, their third child was born, Donna, followed by Jerry in 1956. Rebecca preceded him in death. He was also preceded in death by his three sisters and his son, Jerry Branton.
During his 28-year military career he lived in Alabama twice, Japan, Florida, Texas, California and Louisiana. He was in Vietnam for a year from August 1967 to August 1968.
He was a 50-year Mason and Shriner. While living in Mobile, he was involved with transportation of children to the Shriners Children’s Hospital. He volunteered many hours to the fundraisers the Shriners held. You would always find him at the large outdoor grills. He would spend day and night preparing and cooking the large quantities of meat needed. He loved to be outdoors and he liked to try new ways to grill.
Since 2005, he resided at Rolling Meadows Retirement Center in Wichita Falls, Texas, having moved from Mobile. In 2008, he married Mary Williams. They were active members of the Floral Heights UMC.
He loved Alabama football, NASCAR, country music, (Merle Haggard and Hank Williams were his favorites) politics and new gadgets on the market, like the pen he carried around that was a video recorder. At 84, he ordered an oversize motorized tricycle that he and Mary would ride to meals at the Rolling Meadows Retirement Center in Wichita Falls, with him in the driver’s seat and Mary on the back (where the basket was to be). Him calling back “lift your feet Mary”. He had a sweet tooth and would usually eat his dessert first. He had a good sense of humor and loved to talk. He could talk on any subject but his passion was for politics, but not so much the last six years. I don’t know anyone who actually watches the Senate in Session, but he did. The grandchildren remember the magic tricks he would perform for them and him dressing up in his hillbilly get up. He loved to play jokes on people and was a good sport when on the receiving end. He made a lot of memories and we are thankful for them all.
He is survived by his wife, Mary Branton of Wichita Falls, Texas: children, Dennis Branton of Mobile, Debbie Sutton of Wichita Falls and Donna Bloom of Rapid City, S. D.; sister, Mary Whitfield of Thomasville; brother, Benson Carl Branton of Spokan, Wash.; eight grandchildren; fourteen great-grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews, as well as Mary’s children and grandchildren.
Thank you, to Mary and her family for the Memorial Service in Wichita Falls and for the support they gave us and continue to give.
Those we love don’t go away, they walk beside us every day. Unseen, unheard, but always near; still loved, still missed and very dear.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Shriners Children’s Hospital, Office of Development 2900 Rocky Point Drive, Tampa, FL 33607.