|Birth: ||Oct. 25, 1907|
|Death: ||Apr. 5, 1982|
Longtime HJC president died Monday, April 5
Frank Benjamin Branch, longtime president of Holmes Junior College, died at his home in Goodman Monday, April 5 at the age of 74.
Branch, a native of Smithdale and a graduate of Mississippi College, distinguished himself as an athlete, coach and school administrator.
His coaching career began in 1928 at Mississippi City on the Gulf Coast where he organized the school's first football team. After one year, he returned to Mississippi College to complete work on his bachelor's degree, which he received in 1931. While at MC, he played football and basketball, earning All-Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association in basketball.
Mr. Branch received his M.A. Degree from the University of Alabama.
From 1931-36, he was principal and coach at Pace High School in Bolivar County. His football team won 33 games, lost 10 and tied 2. His basketball teams won three Delta District championships and his baseball teams won one district title.
Next came the long tenure at Holmes Junior College, starting in 1936 as line coach in football under his brother, Ras Branch, for four years and Monk Campbell for two years. During this time Holmes won the State football championship once and placed second twice. He also coached track from 1936-42.
For school year 1942-43, Frank Branch was head football coach and athletic director at Holmes before serving for two years as Ackerman superintendent of schools. During that period, he also coached football, began a basketball program and helped reorganize the Big Black Conference.
In 1945, Branch returned to Holmes as football coach. That year, Holmes was state co-champion, tying Hinds in the Lions bowl in Laurel, the first junior college bowl game in America. The next year, his team won The Toy & Doll Bowl at Hattiesburg by defeating Copiah-Lincoln, 6-0. His three Holmes football teams had a 23-3-2 record.
Frank Branch also coached baseball and basketball teams at Holmes, winning two women's state championships and one menís championship while gaining eight runner-up finishes between 1936 and 1952. During this period, he also taught history and served as both dean of men and contact man for the school.
When he was elected president of Holmes Junior December of 1955, there were 255 students enrolled: in 1976, upon his retirement, the student body had expanded to 3,290. While he served as president, support of the college expanded from two to nine counties.
During his presidency, he also served as: Colonel on the staff of Governor J.P. Coleman: President of the Mississippi Association of Junior Colleges: Vice President and then President of the Mississippi Association of Colleges and Universities: a member of the Mississippi Junior College Commission: a member of the Legislative Committee for Mississippi Junior Colleges: a member of the Lay Study Committee which recommended to the Mississippi Legislature the division of Mississippi into junior college districts: the chairman of the Agricultural High Schools and Junior Colleges Division of the Mississippi Educational Association: past president of the Goodman Lions' Club: past president of the Goodman Community Club: and a deacon of Main Street Baptist Church in Goodman since 1966.
He was honored by the Trustees of Holmes Junior College, the faculty and staff of Holmes Junior College, the Legislature of the State of Mississippi, the State Board of Education, Mississippi Junior College Association, the Chamber of Commerce of Holmes County, the Holmes Junior College Alumni Association, and received the coveted Service to Humanity Award from Mississippi College. Mr. Branch was inducted into the National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame and was inducted into the Mississippi College Hall of Fame.
Funeral services were held 2:00 p.m. Wednesday, April 7 at Main Street Baptist Church, Goodman, with burial in Hillcrest Cemetery, Goodman. Dr. Ray Bridges officiated the services.
He is survived by his wife, Mrs. Lennie Barnett Branch of Goodman: one son, Dr. Frank Benjamin Branch, Jr. of Cleveland; four sisters. Mrs. Nettie B. Young of Smithdale, Mrs. Rubye B. Young of Jackson, Mrs. Birdie B. Carroll of Gainesville, Florida and Miss Callie Branch of Jackson; one brother, Joe L. Branch of Smithdale: two grandchildren, Frank Benjamin Branch, III and Janet Lenne Branch.
Pallbearers were Robert McGraw, Lewis Hambrick, William H. Branch, Donald Phillips, Paul McCain and Bill Bigby.
Honorary pallbearers were Dr. A.A. Derrick, Jr., Dr. Hugh Lee Gowan, Frank Eakin, Robert Cox, Marion Ousley, J. W. Potts, Cecil Clements, Bill Adams, Jack Albin, Evon Lepard, R. W. Almond, Maxie Bruce, Gene Richardson, Tom Tourne, Quimby Morgan, Horace McCool, James Free, Dr. Harold White, Dr. J. B. Young, Dr. Charles Wright, Dr. H.T. Huddleston, Dr. Horace Holmes, Dr. Terry Tisdale, Dr. Billy Thames and deacons of Main Street Baptist Church.
Holmes County Herald Ė Page 1
April 8, 1982
Jessie Jefferson Branch (1871 - 1941)
Mable Lillian Burris Branch (1871 - 1964)
Lennie Barnett Branch (1907 - 1989)
Ruby Branch Young (1898 - 1988)**
Ras M. Branch (1905 - 1956)*
Frank Benjamin Branch (1907 - 1982)
Raiford Earl Branch (1915 - 1982)*
Created by: Beth Austin
Record added: May 30, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 53019942