William Jasper Branson was born September 11, 1920, to Ben and Nancy Branson of Gillham, Arkansas and died September 23, 2017.
He was preceded in death by his parents and three siblings, Alma (Brany) Branson, Iva Branson and Carl Branson. Billy was also preceded in death by his wife, Estalee Bard Branson; one son, William Benjamin Branson; two daughters, Marilyn Branson Ferguson and Mona Branson Shelton; two sons-in-law, Eugene Shelton and Kenny Ward, and one daughter-in-law, Bonnie Branson.
He is survived by one brother, B.F. Branson; one sister-in-law, Nea Branson; one son, Jim Branson (Amy); two daughters, Beth Ward and Jeanette Lemke (Todd); nine grandchildren, Marla Walter (Michael), LeAnn Thrasher (Galin), Stacie Evans (Ryan), Kristy Rhode (Mike), Tessa White (Casey), Christopher Shelton, Cameron Shelton, Ben Lemke, and Hannah Lemke; eight great-grandchildren, Owen Walters, Kaylin Walkins, Bailey Walkins, Ryder Evans, Shane Blankenship, Garrett Dixon, Savanna White, and Nathan White.
Billy Branson was a mountain man; an avid hunter and fisherman. He graduated from Gillham High School, excelling in basketball and baseball. He served as Sergeant in World War II, in such duties as Combat Engineer and Military Policeman. While refereeing basketball; he took a liking to an ornery red-head always in foul trouble, Estalee (Toad) Bard. They were married seventy-one years. A hard worker all his life, he spent his early years in logging woods between Arkansas and Colorado. He was a Mason, served as Mayor of Gillham, instrumental in the start up of the Gillham Volunteer Fire Department, Water Department and Gillham Park. He was a member of "The Greatest Generation" rightfully coined because men of that era were a different breed. He will be missed.
Services will be held at 11:00 a.m., visitation starting at 10:00 a.m., Thursday, September 28, 2017, at the Wilkerson Funeral Home Chapel in De Queen, Arkansas. Burial will follow in the Cossatot Cemetery with Bobby Tatum officiating under the direction of Wilkerson Funeral Home.
Family will gather Wednesday evening at the home of B.F. Branson.
In lieu of flowers, a donation can be made to the United Methodist Church in Gillham or the Talihina Veterans Center, Benefit Patients Fund, 10014 SE 1138th, Talihina, Oklahoma 74571.
You may register on-line at www.wilkersonfuneralhomes.com