Donald Joseph Brannon, 87, born December 24, 1932, passed away on October 24, 2020 after bravely battling multiple cancers. He was surrounded by his family.
Don is survived by his wife of 61 years, Suzanne Smith Brannon; his daughter, Linda Brannon Rembold; his son and his wife, John & Nancy Brannon; and his five grandchildren, Rachel & Roark Rembold and Kylie, Sean & Caroline Brannon. Donald is also survived by his nieces and nephews, Patty Golshani, Michael Benso, David Benso, Peggy Gabor and their spouses and children.
Don was preceded in death by his daughter, Joan Lynne Brannon; his sister, Mary Patricia Benso and his parents, John William and Jane Frances Rafferty Brannon.
Growing up in Washington DC during World War II, Don did his part to support the “War Effort”. He collected tires, newspapers, and pots and pans; attended War Bond drives; and helped the neighborhood Air Wardens. Don attended St. Johns High School. After graduating he joined the United States Air Force and served in Korea. After completing his service, he enrolled in Miami University of Ohio where he was a member of Phi Kappa Tau Fraternity and met his wife, Suzi.
After graduating in 1958 with a degree in Accounting, Don went to work for Westinghouse Aerospace in Baltimore, MD. In 1959 he married Suzi, the love of his life, at the Wright Patterson Air Force Base Chapel in Dayton, Ohio. In 1965 Don earned his MBA from American University in Washington DC.
During his career in finance, Don first joined Westinghouse, Aerospace Division, where he worked on the Bomarc Missle and the B-70 Bomber. He later moved to Corporate Headquarters in Pittsburgh, PA. Next, he worked for Rockwell International, where he served as Controller for their Aircraft Division. Don retired as CFO of Rockwell Valves in Pittsburgh, PA. In that position he directed the finances of 9 plants – 6 in the USA and the other three in France, Scotland & Canada. These two companies took Don & Suzi to Maryland, Pennsylvania, Florida, Oklahoma and finally back to Pittsburgh, PA. During these years the family enjoyed boating, snow skiing, camping trips and annual summer vacations in Bethany Beach, DE. Don also enjoyed going to the Pennsylvania Mountains every hunting season for over 40 years with a group of friends who became “family”.
Wherever the Brannon’s lived, Don was an active volunteer. His many interests included the Optimist Club (Distinguished President & Lt. Governor) and the Midget League (President & Coach of Baseball & Basketball) in Catonsville, MD. There, in 1965, he received the Catonsville JayCees Distinguished Service Award and the State of Maryland Outstanding Young Man of the Year Award. In Pittsburgh Don was active in the Indian Guides and then the Boy Scouts of America. He also supported the American Cancer Society and the Rotary Club (President). Don was foremost a good man who wanted to give care and support to his family, friends & community.
After retiring from Rockwell, Don began the pursuit of his life-long love of cars. First, he owned a Western Auto repair and parts store. Next, he invented and patented a customized truck – The NextUP – successfully combining the advantages of a cargo van with a pick-up truck. His passion led him to have fun designing a full-scale prototype. As Don said, “Another item to check off my bucket list.” Other completed items on his bucket list include sky-diving in 2017 and an African Safari in 2018.
After Don sold his Western Auto Store, he and Suzi moved to Ford’s Colony in Williamsburg, VA where Don designed and acted as the General Contractor to build their dream house. In Williamsburg he was active in the James City Lions Club, the Sons of the American Revolution, the USO and the Historic Virginia Land Conservancy where he received the Outstanding Volunteer of the Year in 2015. Don was in the first team of volunteers for the opening of the Liberty Lounge, providing hospitality to military personnel visiting Colonial Williamsburg.
Don and Suzi have enjoyed traveling, playing golf, card games with friends and bowling during their retirement years. He was an avid fan of the Washington Redskins and the Washington Nationals. The Brannons are members of St. Bede Catholic Church.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Don’s memory may be made to The Williamsburg House of Mercy (10 Harrison Ave, 23185) or to the Historic Virginia Land Conservancy (5000 New Point Rd. STE 3101, 23188).
Don will be buried in a private ceremony at Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Silver Spring, MD, beside his daughter, Joan Lynne.