Jack R. Branning of Vicksburg died Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021, at University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, where he was taken after a sudden illness. He celebrated his 90th birthday on the 28th.
Mr. Branning was a noted businessman, conservationist, hunter, philanthropist, familycentered community leader and farmer.
He was born in 1931, the son of Homer T. and Ima Branning, and grew up near French Camp, Miss., where he graduated from French Camp Academy before moving to Vicksburg.
For many years, he owned and managed Southern Printing and Southern Office Supply Co. in Vicksburg, while also engaging in many other enterprises and partnerships. In more recent years, when he referred to himself as a “retired pencil salesman,” he owned a home at Eagle Lake and 3,500 acres in Sharkey County which was developed for wildlife-oriented crop farming, reversion to wetland, natural bottomland hardwood forest and prime deer, dove and waterfowl hunting. His efforts were recognized by the Environmental Law Institute with the national Landowner Stewardship Award in 2004. The Institute reported, “Mr. Branning’s committed wetland management has fostered habitat for at least 43 different species of waterfowl, shorebirds, and wading birds, including threatened wood storks and bald eagles. His actions also significantly increased the effective habitat of the (adjacent) Delta National Forest.” In 2006, he was named Soil, Air and Water Conservationist of the Year by the Mississippi Wildlife Federation. In 1972, Mr. Branning was named Vicksburg Jaycee’s Man of the Year. In 1999, he was named French Camp Academy’s Alumnus of the Year. Among many community roles, Mr. Branning served as president of the VicksburgWarren County Chamber of Commerce and chairman of the Warren County Economic Development Foundation and United Way campaign. He was a board member at the Junius Ward Johnson Memorial YMCA and of First National Bank of Vicksburg, later Trustmark.
Former YMCA executive director Herb Wilkinson described Mr. Branning as a longtime friend and confidante who was “positive” and “a born salesman.” Board meetings started at 7:30 a.m. “Jack was always upbeat, and when he came into any room it was with a smile on his face. He was supportive of anything and everything that was good for the community.”
Mr. Branning was a charter member of Choctaw Fishing Club, and succeeded the founder, Dr. George Martin, as president of the 15-member group that met for dinner every Thursday for at least 50 years. A longtime fellow Choctaw member, Dr. Jody Wilson, said Mr. Branning “had a long life, a great life – but it will always be sad not to take off, go up to his lodge and sit and listen to stories.”
“We saw him every morning when we had HorseFace Harry’s Cafe. We made a pot of coffee and he would come in to fill his cup and chat for a bit. He was a brilliant businessman who understood the value of relationships,” said Rhonda Day, former owner of HorseFace Harry’s Cafe and The Historic Klondyke Trading Post.
Mr. Branning is survived by his wife of almost 53 years, Frances. They have two sons, Ross Branning (Joy) of Brandon and Ricky Liston (Gail) of Wrightsville Beach, N.C., and two daughters, Patti Branning Walker (James Earl) of Madison, and Sharon Liston Karel (Jim) of Vicksburg. Together they have eight grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren and three great-greatgrandchildren.
Mr. Branning was preceded by three brothers, one sister, and a grandson, Richard Grey Liston.
Visitation will be Saturday, Dec. 4, starting at 9:30 a.m., followed by a service at 11 a.m., both at First Baptist Church in Vicksburg. This will immediately be followed by interment at Greenlawn Garden Cemetery in Vicksburg.
Pallbearers will be Christian Branning, Glenn Davidson, Derek Walker, Allen Karel, Patrick Karel and Seth Liston.
Those who wish to make memorials are encouraged to consider French Camp Academy, 1 Fine Place, French Camp, MS 39745.
Glenwood Funeral Home has charge of arrangements.