East Texas is poorer for his passing.
By Chris Edwards
WOODVILLE – Herbert G. Branch, a longtime businessman and civic leader in Woodville, died last Wednesday at the age of 91.
Branch worked as a forester for International Paper and moved to Woodville in the early 1970s to manage the Tyler County IP office. Branch also worked in real estate and appraisals, and opened his own business after retiring from IP, which he operated for many years.
Although he retired from his business a decade ago, he was still active in avenues of service and in leadership. Branch served several terms on the Woodville City Council, and resigned last fall, to focus on his health.
He was also a long-serving member of the Rotary Club of Woodville and served as its president, and several terms as treasurer. He was honored in 2004 by the Rotary District 5910 on its “Roll of Fame”.
Late last year Branch was honored by the Rotarians as the Woodville club’s first Member Emeritus.
Branch also volunteered with the Dogwood Festival for many years, alongside his late wife Katherine. He served as a Kingsman and volunteered with the historical play for the annual festival.
Prior to moving to Woodville and his career in the timber industry, Branch served in the Army in the Korean War, and was eventually assigned to an elite MP unit. His duties included guarding then-Vice President Richard Nixon, when Nixon visited Korea.
Branch was also a collegiate basketball star before joining the military. He played all four years as an undergraduate at Stephen F. Austin State University (then Stephen F. Austin State College) in Nacogdoches. As a Lumberjack, Branch was a forward for the 1948-49 Lone Star Conference championship team and was a standout all four years that he played for coach Glen Rose.
Woodville City Administrator Mandy Risinger, who worked many years alongside Branch in city government, said that Woodville benefited greatly from Branch’s devotion and his wisdom in leadership.
“Personally, I enjoyed and appreciated his advice, his candor and his wit,” she said. “Herb was a voice of reason in a world of chaos, and he will be greatly missed.”
Risinger also noted Branch was well-known for his fun-loving personality and “wonderful” sense of humor, but when it came to serious matters, he “could definitely be serious.”
“He had a servant’s heart and felt a responsibility to serve his community,” she added.
Risinger also shared memories of Branch as “an excellent dancer,” who was an “absolute joy to watch he and his wife jitterbug” and his standard answer of “I’ll have a Coors Light” when asked if he would like something to drink, no matter the location.
“It was my pleasure to work with Herb and to get to know him on a personal level. I respected him immensely and I am deeply saddened by his passing,” Risinger said.