Richard Joseph Branigan (1932 - 2011)

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Branigan, Richard Joseph

We mourn the passing of Richard Branigan—beloved son, husband, father, grandfather, uncle, friend, writer, musician, philosopher and Irishman.

Richard was born on June 20, 1932 in Brooklyn, New York and passed away due to complications from cancer in Oshkosh, Wisconsin on Wednesday, July 20, 2011. He was 79.

Richard attended PS 119 in Brooklyn, Mount St. Michael High Academy in the Bronx, Marist College in Poughkeepsie (where he briefly pursued becoming a Roman Catholic Brother), St. John's University in Manhattan and the University of Wisconsin—Oshkosh where he received his MBA.

His life was marked by many poetic turns, none more so than his romance with his wife Patricia, which began as an international letter writing friendship when he was in the army and stationed in Japan. After the couple married in 1959, they lived in New York City where Richard worked at Schroeder Trust Company.

In 1962 they relocated to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where Richard worked at First Wisconsin Bank and then for Bruce Publishing. The couple moved to Oshkosh in 1968, where he taught layout and design classes and then worked in various leadership roles in the publishing and alumni departments at the University of Wisconsin—Oshkosh.

Richard's gentle soul and ability to turn a phrase are legendary to those who knew him. A brilliant writer and conversationalist, he drew on his limitless stores of literary and lyrical knowledge to entertain and inspire. He was the embodiment of Irish Charm.

Richard was perhaps best known for his piano playing, a skill he honed throughout his life to the point where he could play virtually any classic song from memory—and in any key desired. He was the house piano player at the Oshkosh Country Club for 30 years, and a requested entertainer by dignitaries as diverse as former Wisconsin Governor / U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson, and actor Harrison Ford, whom he entertained at Oshkosh's famed Experimental Aircraft Association events.

A tireless volunteer, Richard spent thousands of hours helping others at St. Mary's Catholic Church, through committee work as a member of Learning in Retirement, as a docent for the Winnebago Historical and Archeological Society, as a piano player at nursing homes and hospitals, and the many people in need who he never mentioned.

No matter what was going on in his life, he always took the time to send a note (usually something worthy of framing) to people who were struggling, that contained just the right words to make them feel like everything would be all right.

Richard's commitment to the Word of God and his family were the threads that tied it all together. As a father he was ever-present in the lives of his three children: loving, supporting and encouraging them as only he could. His impact on our lives is incalculable—the world has lost one of its truest and purest souls. From this day on, whenever the Heavenly Choir performs, it will be Richard Branigan at the piano, imploring: "One more time—with feeling!"

Richard is survived by his loving wife Patricia, his children Mary Shaun (John Casey) —Appleton, Thomas Joseph (Sally McFarlane) — Milwaukee, and Kerry Jean (Brian Mitchell) — Oshkosh; grandchildren Michael Casey, Patrick Casey, Kathleen Branigan, Joseph Mitchell, Daniel Mitchell, Michael Branigan and Mary Mitchell; Sister-in-law Kathy Krautkramer, brother-in-law Tom Krautkramer, niece Heidi Krautkramer (Stuart Thompson), and great-niece Paige Thompson; Nephews Edward and Steven Pratt, niece Joanne Pratt, their children and countless friends.

Richard was preceded in death by his father Joseph Branigan, mother Kathleen Branigan, uncle Harry Holmes, sister Ann (Branigan) Pratt, brother-in-law Donald Pratt, and nephew Timothy Krautkramer.

Visitation will be held on Friday, July 22, from 4:00 pm. - 8:00 p.m. at Fiss & Bills-Poklasny Funeral Home, 865 South Westhaven Drive, Oshkosh, Wisconsin, 54904, with an Irish Tribute from 7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. A mass of Christian burial will be celebrated on Saturday, July 23, 2011 at 10:30 a.m. in Most Blessed Sacrament Parish, St. Mary's Catholic Church, 442 Monroe Street, Oshkosh Wisconsin, 54901. Visitation will be held at the church only on Saturday from 9:30 a.m. until the time of mass.

Fiss & Bills-Poklasny Funeral Home 865 South Westhaven Drive


Published in Oshkosh Northwestern on July 21, 2011
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