Thomas L. Branch
Thomas Lawton Branch, loving family man, amateur pilot, business owner, and devoted Jehovah’s Witness, died peacefully in the early morning hours of September 19, 2020. Tom, as he was affectionately known, was born on April 27, 1932 to Lucille and Irvin Branch in Blount Springs, Alabama. He was the second born of four children.
Tom graduated from Welch High School, Welch West Virginia, in 1951 and, after giving all his savings to his parents, promptly boarded a bus north to seek his fortune. Four short years later, after time spent as a foundry worker and salesman, Tom founded Economy Heating and Air Conditioning Company in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Over the next 40 years, Economy Heating flourished, servicing thousands of customers and employing hundreds of people under Tom’s exceptional leadership. As the owner of several buildings in the Pittsburgh area, Tom also cared for many tenants, considering them part of his extended family.
Tom married his beloved wife, Vera (Cox), in 1987 with six sons at his side. Until Vera's death in 2018, the couple divided their time between Pittsburgh and Eufaula, Alabama and were treasured in both communities for their generosity, devotion, and love for their animal companions.
Tom’s fierce love for his family, ambition, quick wit, and thirst for knowledge fueled him throughout his life and endeared him to those who knew him even in his final days. After much careful study, Tom received his private pilot's license in 1996 and subsequently spent much of his time traveling the country in his plane and regaling his loved ones, acquaintances, and lucky strangers with stories of his adventures. After hanging up his wings, Tom devoted himself to study and repartee, with history, politics, and the teachings of his faith as favored subjects. His sharp mind, pithy sayings, and infectious grin in the midst of spirited debate will be dearly missed.
Tom began his decades-long walk with Jehovah God when he was baptized at Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Pittsburgh. Since that time, Tom remained a devoted and respected member of his faith communities in both Pittsburgh and Eufaula, where he grew in his love for Jehovah and faithfully studied the Bible with his spiritual family.
Tom was preceded in death by his parents (Irvin, Lucille); siblings (Patricia, David, Fred); beloved wife Vera; and former spouses, Mary Jane (Casper) and Louise (Dowling). Tom is survived by his six sons: Patrick Branch (Joan), Thomas Branch (Blanca), Robert Branch (Adell), Scott Dowling (Heidi), Gregory Branch (Vera) and Jonathan Branch; former wife, Geraldine Gasparella; 12 grandchildren; 5 great-grandchildren, and beloved dog, Rascal.
The family expresses their sincere gratitude to all the caregivers, friends, and loved ones who watched over Tom during his final days. Special thanks to Lowell and Karen Gilmore, Joel and Selena Washington, Terry Marsden, Leslie Person, and Lanita Rosario. Their careful attentions allowed Tom to remain in comfort in the treasured home he built with Vera until very shortly before his death, which Tom deeply appreciated.
Private funeral services will be celebrated online with family and his Kingdom Hall congregates at a later date. Tom will be laid to rest in a private family ceremony in Allegheny Memorial Park. A public memorial will follow when the many who knew and loved Tom can safely gather to celebrate his full life.
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