No formal service is planned for Richard “Jack” Branson, 75, who passed away peacefully in the early morning hours of June 10 surrounded by family at his home in Florence.
Family and friends hope to have a beer-drinking party with lots of Jack’s stories to be told and will set a time and date as soon as possible.
He was born March 18, 1945, in Endicott, Nebraska.
He is preceded in death by parents Frank and Elizabeth, brothers Le “Bud” and John, and sisters Elizabeth, Mary, and Donna.
He is survived by sister Fern in California, brother Roy Brawner in Missouri, a daughter, and four grandchildren, as well as many nieces, nephews, and friends.
He attended Florence schools. He served in the Army with a year in Vietnam as a medic, where he carried a $50,000 pack on his back. He was honorably discharged.
Jack held many jobs and was very talented at whatever he set his mind to. He was a master welder and taught many people to weld as well. He once took a welding test at Union Tank train car company in El Dorado. There were 60 people taking the test, and Jack was one of only two men to pass.
He also was an excellent operator of what he called “yellow iron.” He was running a loader up on US-50 and had to pick up a huge concrete/asphalt chuck from a very steep ditch. It was said he laid the loader on its side, retrieved the chuck, and set the loader back on its wheels. Traffic was said to have stopped to watch him.
Jack’s life changed when he met his companion of 32 years, Ruth (Richmond) Brooks.
The big Richmond clan took him in and thoroughly enjoyed him. He gained this large family as his own. He had a mother-in-law who actually liked him. He loved schmoozing her and making her laugh. He gained twin daughters, four grandchildren, three great-grandchildren, four brothers-in-law, and two-sisters-in-law. He also was there for the loss of son-in-law Kelly Burtin and grandson Austin.
Ruth and Jack were together for 32 years. He may have never known he was so truly loved.
Liver cancer was what took him. He only knew about it four days.
He has been cremated and, per his request, his ashes have been placed in a quart-sized Budweiser bottle to be scattered on his beloved Cottonwood River.
He will be dearly missed by Ruth, and he would be surprised to know how many others feel the same way.
A note to Jack — Missy is still hunting for you.