Charles L. Branch Sr.

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Texas neurosurgeon Charles L. Branch, Sr., passed peacefully to his reward at the age of 87 on the 6th of December, 2013, with family surrounding him at his home in San Antonio.
He leaves behind a beloved wife of over sixty years, five children and their spouses, eighteen grandchildren, one great grandchild and an impressive legacy of service to others - most notably thousands of healed patients across multiple states and countries - and an epic mortal life spanning over eight decades, which began in the rolling farmlands of West Tennessee and ended in the shadow of the Alamo.
In many ways, Charles was a man for all seasons. He was the first in his family to become a physician, he taught himself to sail and ranch, he enjoyed golf, traveling, classical and country music, singing hymns, reciting poetry, telling a good story and surrounding himself with family and friends. His life experiences ranged from plowing a cotton field behind a mule to opening the brain of an unhealthy patient.
From surgery to ranching, and from academia to family, Dr. Branch lived an energetic and productive life punctuated by his deep faith in Jesus Christ. Depending on the situation, Charles could be forgiving or demanding, gentle or tough; he had soft hands and a rugged heart. At age 85, he beat the odds to make an amazing recovery from a life threatening heart arrest and extended coma. In so many ways, his last 18 months were a special blessing.
Charles was born August 9, 1926, in Bells, TN and later moved with his family to Jackson, TN. His father, E.H. Branch was a railroad depot agent. His mother, Grace Mae Colvett Branch was a school teacher and homemaker. Following high school, Charles honorably served his country in the United States Army during World War II.
After the war, he attended Lipscomb College in Nashville, TN known today as Lipscomb University, and graduated from Vanderbilt University in 1949 and Vanderbilt University Medical School in 1953. Charles began his neurosurgical residency at the University of Chicago and completed his training in 1959 at McGill's Montreal Neurological Institute (MNI) under the service of Drs. Wilder Penfield and Ted Rasmussen, two of North America's most preeminent neurosurgeons. He remained in Montreal on the faculty of the MNI until 1968 when he and his family relocated to San Antonio. Dr. Branch received a MSC in neurophysiology from McGill University and was a clinical professor at McGill University Medical School, the University of Texas (UT) Health Science Center at San Antonio and a distinguished guest lecturer at the UT Southwestern Medical Center.
Dr. Branch, a long time member of the Texas Medical Association, engaged in the active practice of neurosurgery in San Antonio for nearly 30 years. After a brief period at the Nix Hospital, he practiced primarily at SW Texas Methodist Hospital, where he was instrumental in the development of the Neuroscience unit, and St. Luke's Baptist Hospital. He published over 20 articles on a host of neurological and neurosurgical topics and helped develop techniques in spine fusion surgery that led to innovations now used around the world. He further distinguished himself as a member of the Society of University Neurosurgeons, an early member of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons, and the Harvey Cushing Society, now known as the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS). In 2004, he was recognized by the AANS with the Humanitarian Award for his medical mission work in Nigeria, Haiti and Guyana. He and his wife, Sylvia established the only Emergency Medical facility in a densely populated, impoverished region in southeast Nigeria. In 2006, the Southern Neurosurgical Society awarded him the Distinguished Practitioner in Neurosurgery Award and in 2010, the UT Dallas BrainHealth Center honored him by creating the Charles L. Branch Award to recognize the nation's leading neuroscientists.
For over 30 years, Dr. Branch served as vice chair, trustee and life trustee of the board of Oklahoma Christian University. He and Sylvia sponsored hundreds of scholarships for emerging student leaders at OC.
Charles was an active member of the MacArthur Park Church of Christ, where he served as a Sunday school teacher, deacon, medical missionary and as an elder for over 43 years.
Dr. Branch, a long time member of the Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association and the Texas Farm Bureau, was the founding partner of Branch Ranch holdings in Guadalupe County, where he developed and preserved over 1700 acres with native grasses and wetlands, and managed extensive Black Angus and Brangus cattle operations.
While a student at Vanderbilt University Medical School, Charles, a native of Crockett County, TN, met Sylvia Lee Boswell, a coed at Peabody College, now a part of Vanderbilt University, and eventually they were married on August 4, 1953, in Sylvia's hometown of Lakeland, FL. Charles and Sylvia had an enduring love. He credited Sylvia with enriching his life since first meeting her in 1952 and saving his life in 2012.
Charles is survived by his wife, Sylvia Boswell Branch, the love of his life for over 60 years and mother of their five children.
He was preceded in death by his father, E.H. Branch and mother, Grace Mae Colvett Branch, and his older sister, Dorothy Branch Hall and survived by his younger brother, Bill Branch and wife, Betty M. Branch, of Roanoke, VA, as well as his younger sister, Carolyn Branch Evanson and husband, Phil Evanson, of Irving.
He will be fondly remembered by his children: Charles L. Branch, Jr., M.D., and his wife, Lesa W. Branch, of Winston-Salem, NC; Warren B. Branch, D.D.S., and his wife, Melissa W. Branch, of San Antonio; Daniel H. Branch, Esq. and his wife, Stacey S. Branch, of Dallas; Alfred C. Branch and his wife, Judy L. Branch, of Oklahoma City, OK; and Cynthia Lee Branch Adams, and her husband, Donald F. Adams, M.D., of San Antonio.
In addition, Charles is survived by his grandchildren: Byron C. Branch, M.D. and wife, Sarah Y. Branch, Daniel W. Branch and wife, Kate J. Branch, Leslie G. Branch, M.D., Courtney B. Branch and Emily J. Branch; as well as Daniel H. Branch Jr., Spencer H. Branch, Catherine L. Branch, Charles V. Branch and Sarah J. Branch; as well as Meagan Branch Lytton and husband, Brock Lytton, and Lee W. Branch;
as well as C. Henson Adams and wife, Abigail Adams, Esq., S. Alexandra Adams, Samantha E. Adams, Harrison F. Adams, Henry B. Adams and Sarah Eleanor Adams.
Dr. Branch is also survived by his great grandson, Wyatt Charles Branch.
The family wishes to thank Drs. Fernando Triana, Randall Bell, Richard Fetchick and their staffs as well as the Odyssey Hospice team for their compassionate care.

Visitation will be held at 4:30 - 7:30 pm, Friday, December 13, 2013 at Sunset Funeral Home Chapel, 1701 Austin Hwy., San Antonio, TX 78218. The Memorial Service will be held at 1:00 pm, Saturday, December 14, 2013 at MacArthur Park Church of Christ, 1907 NE Loop 410, San Antonio, TX 78217. Condolences may be offered at There will be a private burial at Sunset Memorial Park.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be sent to:

The Charles L. Branch Memorial Fund
MacArthur Park Church of Christ
1907 NE Loop 410
San Antonio, TX 78217

The Charles & Sylvia Branch Family Scholarship Fund
Oklahoma Christian University
Box 11000
Oklahoma City, OK 73136

The Charles & Sylvia Branch Emergency Center
Nigerian Christian Hospital
IHCF African Christian Hospitals
102 N Locust St.
Searcy, AR 72143
Published in Express-News on Dec. 12, 2013
Charles L. Branch
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Arrangements under the direction of:
Sunset Funeral Home
1701 Austin Highway | San Antonio, TX 78218 | (210) 828-2811
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