Rev. Tom E. Branson, 94, joined his darling little sweetheart Alice in Heaven on March 26, 2019.
He was a lifelong resident of Decatur until going into Heritage Health Pana in August 2018. He was born to John and Lucille Branson in Forest City in November 1924, attended Riverside, Centennial and graduated from Decatur High School in 1942. He attempted to join the military but was refused because he weighed only 90 lbs. So he went to work for Lockheed Aircraft in Burbank California building P-38 Lightning airplanes. He returned to Decatur, where he met the love of his life, Alice at Illinois Power Company. They were married in October 1944 and enjoyed nearly 65 years together until her death September 2009.
Tom & Alice gave their lives to the Lord in 1953 and he answered the call to preach in 1954. He founded Union School Baptist Mission, Forsyth Baptist Mission, pastored West New Hope Baptist Church near Tower Hill and Boody Baptist Church. He also preached at many Southern Baptist churches throughout Central Illinois. After a revival in 1959, he baptized 28 people in Beck’s Creek down the hill from New Hope.
Tom worked at the Garfield Plant manufacturing parts for the atomic bomb. He continued there until its closure in June 1945. In July 1945 he began his career at Mueller Company, and remained there until his retirement in December 1985.
Tom was a remarkable self-made man of many talents. He taught himself to play harmonica and guitar, played with the Skiffles group at Rock Springs Center. He volunteered there for 20 years after retiring, creating and performing various characters. The most notorious of those was Dr. Silas J. Haile and his medicine show, featuring a Miracle Elixir. He was awarded the Decatur DAR community service award as volunteer of the year in 2012. After being Alice’s dedicated caregiver for the last five years of her life, he volunteered at St. Mary’s Adult Day Care, entertaining with his music, stories and jokes. Tom’s late friend Bob Fallstrom wrote many stories in the Herald & Review about him, saying he loved to spread cheer.
Tom was an active member of Salem Baptist Church Decatur until he moved to Heritage. He loved the Lord and his Salem family.
He is survived by three daughters, Judith Hunter , Jennifer Branson, Melanie Cantu ; four grandchildren, Tony Cantu, Sean Hunter, Keivan Branson, Camila Cantu; great-grandson Antonio Cantu; sister Jean Wilson; sister-in-law Janet DeVore and many nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his parents, brother John, and beloved wife Alice. He was a wonderful husband, father and pal. He was always there for us.
Thank you to all the staff at Heritage Health for the loving care they gave him. Especially thanks to his Little Angel Meagan Ruot who gave him special care.
Service will be held at Salem Baptist Church, Decatur, on March 30, 2019 with visitation beginning at 11:00 a.m. Burial will be at Boiling Springs Cemetery. Tanzyus Logan Funeral Service and Care is in charge of arrangements. Memorials may be made to Salem Baptist Church, Decatur.
“I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” II Timothy 4:7-8.
Please sign the family guestbook.