Dateline: February 25, 2010

Florita Branigan, 84, of Memphis died Friday, February 12, 2010. 

Graveside services were at 10 a.m. Tuesday, February 16, in Fairview Cemetery by Cox-LaGrone Funeral Home, 4180 Canyon Drive. Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. in First United Methodist Church of Memphis with Rob Blum and Neely Landrum officiating.

Mrs. Branigan was born August 7, 1925, in Oklahoma City. She attended high school in Hitchcock, Okla. She married Elmont Branigan in Clinton, Okla., on March 20, 1945. Mrs. Branigan received a teaching certificate from Southwestern Oklahoma State. The Branigans moved to Memphis and purchased the business from Dr. Charles Oren, and it became Branigan Jewelry on February 1, 1947. The store moved to its present location on November 1, 1960. Mrs. Branigan worked with the youth of Hall County with service to Boy and Girl Scouting, for more than 25 years, working as a staff member at the last Girl Scout Roundup, as well as 4-H, Memphis Band Booster and Methodist youth groups. Mrs. Branigan had an art of engraving and much of her handiwork was donated in support of the youth of Memphis and the surrounding communities. 

After the death of Elmont, she continued supporting businesses in Memphis, as she served as the Women’s Council President of Memphis Chamber of Commerce, and was honored by being elected the “First Lady President” of the regular Chamber of Commerce, receiving the “Work Horse of the Year” award. In 1981, she was selected Beta Sigma Phi Women of the Year, and then again in 1986-87. The Branigan family was also chosen as “Family of the Year” by the Memphis Chamber of Commerce. Mrs. Branigan received several awards in the past few years of her life, receiving the highest award from Girl Scouting with the “I Can” award, along with being honored with the 2009 Women of Distinction. One of Mrs. Branigan’s passions was her church family, as she was a member of the First United Methodist Church, serving as secretary to the Administrative Council almost 40 years and had the privilege of teaching the Victory Sunday School class for over 30 years. She was also a charter member of the Club 51. 

During the last several years, Florita began chronicling her life in Memphis and several of her quotes follow: “Memphis has been very generous to my family and me. I can think of no better community in which to live. It is like having one big family, everyone helping the other, and there is much love in Memphis, Texas. Only through the help and encouragement I have received could any of these many things been accomplished.” “Through our doors walk the most wonderful people in the world, Our Friends, Our Customers, for this I say “Thank You.”

She was preceded in death by her parents; her husband, Elmont Branigan, in 1982; and her sister, Olive Simmons in 1991. 

Survivors include one son, Mike Branigan and wife Linda of Memphis; a daughter, Elmonette Bivens and husband Paul of Clarendon; grandchildren, Michelle Bryant and husband Matt of Memphis, Shayne Branigan and wife Angie of Memphis, Stephen Bivens and wife Katrina of Amarillo and Scott Bivens and wife Alyssa of Lubbock; 12 great-grandchildren; nieces and nephews, MaryLou Lozier and husband Tad of Fritch, Mark Simmons and wife Betty of Calhan, Colo., Dwight Branigan and wife Pat of Euless, Galen Branigan and wife Kay of Amarillo, Gary Branigan and wife Dianna of Arlington, Norman Freeman and wife Patsy of Martin, Tenn., and Linville Freeman and wife Martha of Martin, Tenn. She is also survived by 19 great-nieces and great-nephews.

The family requests memorials be made to the McLean Dance Club, Box 177, Wheeler, TX 79096; the Donley County Senior Citizens, PO Drawer B, Clarendon, TX 79226; the United Methodist Church in Clarendon or Memphis; or your favorite charity.

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