November 1, 1935 – March 7, 2023
David Zane Branum, 87, of Merriam, Kansas, passed away Tuesday, March 7, 2023. David was born in Kansas City, Missouri, to parents Alois and Gladys (Schultz) Branum. He was raised by his beloved uncle and aunt, Earl and Lillian ‘Ninny’ Kirkpatrick. They generously took him in and gave him a stability he did not have in his early years. David was so happy to have Ninny and Earl as guardians.
He was a graduate of Rosedale High School, class of 1953. During high school he played clarinet in band and orchestra, a member of the golf team, one year on the football team, student council, Hi-Y, and other committees. He was known for his rendition of “Stardust” on the clarinet. His Senior Quote from the 1953 yearbook: “He is a gentleman, because his nature is kind and affable to every creature.” (Richard Barnfield, 1594).
His Uncle Earl was a pharmacist and had drugstores with the old-fashioned soda fountains. David helped out at the drugstore and with deliveries while he was in school.
He started at Bendix at 18. He stayed with the company through many iterations, taking whatever job was available when the company went through rounds of layoffs. He worked on a cleaning crew. He was a shot blaster, dressing in what looked like an old diving suit, to clear the paint from the train cars in the plant. They could only shot blast for an hour at a time as the conditions were dangerous. He also did deliveries throughout the extensive site at 95th and Bannister Road on a tricycle! He ended his Bendix career as a production planner. In his 31 years there, Bendix became Allied Signal and is now Honeywell. He was able to retire from Honeywell at 49!
After retirement from Bendix, he worked with a friend for a few years painting houses, indoors and out. In the early 1990s, he took a position at the Blue Valley District Office, first in the Print Services then as an evening custodian. On his late shifts as a custodian, he would go to work an hour early when the weather was icy to scrape the windshields of the cars in the parking lot before the employees left for the day. He was also known to keep a big stash of Brach’s candies on hand so he could leave a bag for anyone having a birthday. He enjoyed working in the evenings, you’d find him working in the halls with his Walkman cassette player singing along to Willie Nelson, whose music was a favorite. He was sorely missed when he retired from Blue Valley.
David met the love of his life quite literally while walking down the street. Mary Jane was outside, saw him and invited him to church. They had a fab group of friends at Olivet Baptist Church where they were married in October 1954. They drove to Chicago for their honeymoon. David loved telling the story of how they kept seeing these neon signs as they got closer to Chicago. They glowed with the letters P-I-Z-Z-A, but what was pizza? That was their first encounter with the food. They celebrated their 64th anniversary just before Mary Jane’s passing in 2018. They were a wonderful example of how a couple stays together through thick and thin. They loved each other deeply, and those around them could easily see it.
David loved playing and watching golf, even winning a tournament in Olathe at his local club. His nickname was “Fudge” as he wouldn’t cuss but would say “gee fudge” when a shot didn’t go quite right. He would go over to the Milburn Junior High field to hit golf balls. He told his family about this man that would show up in a suit, take his jacket, shirt and tie off and hit balls for about an hour then put his shirt, tie and jacket back on. David would see him there regularly and eventually they started talking. They developed a friendship that led to golf outings and playing different local courses. David finally found out that this man was a pastor of a very large church in Prairie Village. Here was David having quality time with a very busy man. Even though David wasn’t one of his congregants, this pastor would check on David when having health issues, offering his time and prayers. In his later years, you could see David hitting wiffle balls with the golf clubs in the front yard on Antioch. You would also find him in the yard in his happy place on the riding mower.
David was known for his sense of humor. He was able to lighten a tense situation with a joke or story that had you laughing and laughing. When you met him, you wouldn’t know the difficulties he’d been through in his early years. He chose to be a better person. When he did a job, he was thorough, no shortcuts, he did the job properly even if that meant it took much longer. That was the example he lived each day.
We will forever hear his voice with some of his well-known sayings: “Ya did good. Ya done did good, kid.” Or “Oh geez, oh golly.” And in a slow voice, “Yes, dear.”
He was preceded in death by his wife, Mary Jane Branum; survived by his son, Mark; daughter, Susan Williamson (Gary); son, Kirk (Joy); daughter, Colette Harris (Iain); grandchildren, Jessica, James, Jonathan, and Phoebe; great-grandchildren Kaden, Hunter, Joshua, Delaney, and Bradford; nieces, Janice, Carolyn, and Trina; and nephews, Steve, Craig, and Jeff; and sister-in-law, Joyce.
Visitation will be held at McGilley & Hoge Memorial Chapel, 8024 Santa Fe Drive, Overland Park, Kansas, on Friday, March 24, at 10:00 a.m., with funeral service following at Noon. Committal Service is at 1:00 p.m. at Johnson County Memorial Gardens, 11200 Metcalf Avenue, Overland Park, Kansas 66210.
The family would like to express our sincerest thanks for the wonderful help and care over the years given by Dr. Charles Ragland, Dr. Matthew Butler, and the Advent Health Cancer Center Shawnee Mission staff.
If desired, in lieu of flowers, friends may make memorial contributions to the House of Hope (houseofhopekc.net) and the Sisters Servants of Mary (sisterservantsofmary.org/donate).
Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at www.mcgilleyhoge.com for the Branum family.
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