Evelyn Branson celebrates 95 years with four generations of her family

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Photo by Kyle Quick
Evelyn Branson stands next to her birthday cake among family and friends as they celebrate her 95th birthday.

New Haven, Mo - Yesterday afternoon, I had the distinct pleasure of speaking with a vibrant, full of life, brilliant women.  Today she celebrates her 95th birthday with her family that consists of four generations.  Her beautiful smile has not changed nor her sense of humor in the past 95 years.

Evelyn Branson or more commonly called “Grandma Branson” was born on March 31, 1917.  When Evelyn was around the age of 16, her grandmother said, “I bet you will have several children already.”  Bluntly, Evelyn replied, “Not me, I don’t plan on having children”.  Ninety-five years later Mrs. Branson is the mother of 14 children, ironically the same number of children her grandmother had.

Aside from her 14 children, “Grandma Branson” has 33 grandchildren, an estimated 50 great grandchildren, and 6 great-great grandchildren; four generations of Branson’s exist today because of Evelyn and her husband “Walt”.

Evelyn Maune Branson married Walter Branson in 1935, spending 58 years together before Walter passed away in 1993.  When Evelyn was only 16 years old she began working at the International Shoe Company in Washington, Mo.

Evelyn said, “Walt and I rode the same elevator for two years.”  I asked if they had ever spoken to one another, she bluntly replied, “Heck No”.  Eventually the two would meet at one of many dances held every weekend in the city park.  Evelyn said, “Walt and I went on a few dates, danced the Waltz, and just fell in love."

Electricity and running water were the two luxuries that changed Evelyn’s way of living and the biggest change she has experienced.  She said, “It was a huge change, we didn’t have to worry about the chain breaking to pull water out of the cistern or those dang oil lamps.  I never want to go back to those times.”

While Evelyn and I spoke, one of her great granddaughters sat next to her along with two of her daughters, listening as we continued talking.  Her favorite story to tell is about one of their many camping trips.

Evelyn said, “We were camping and I had made my milk gravy in a big iron skilled for breakfast.  While I was stepping out of the bus I tripped, falling to the ground and gravy scattered everywhere.”  Her daughter asked what happened next.  Without hesitation Evelyn replied, “You didn’t get the gravy.”  Everyone in her room, including myself, busted out in laughter.  Evelyn said, “We had some rough times, but a lot of good times."

Nearly a century has passed but Mrs. Branson’s sense of humor and beaming smile has yet to fade.  It was easy to see where her children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and great-great grandchildren’s sense of humor and kindness toward others has come from.

Four generations of Branson's pack the basement of the Assumption Catholic Church.

Throughout our 45-minute conversation there were countless times she would say what good children she has, refusing to take any credit.  In fact, she was somewhat embarrassed that someone would want to write a story about her.  She couldn’t understand why having 14 children was such a big deal.  Her great granddaughter sitting by her side quickly responded, “But grandma, I would not be here if it were not for you”.

Evelyn became slightly emotional as a few tears fell as we explained how much different the world would be had it not been for her.

Mrs. Branson’s favorite thing to do is watch the St. Louis Cardinals during the summer months and Mizzou basketball in the winter and remembers every World Series the Cardinals have won.  Her all-time favorite movie is Shirley Temple.

If it were not for Evelyn Branson the lives of an unimaginable number would not be the same.  Her one of a kind smile has uplifted others to be happy, her wisdom has educated friends, family, and complete strangers beyond belief, and her love and kindness towards others has changed the world.  She is the epitome of proving that nothing is unattainable.

Happy 95th Birthday Mrs. Branson, and thank you for all of your inspiration.