Celebrating the life of Delores Branch
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Delores Janette Burkley Branch was born in Memphis, TN on May 22, 1931 to Mattie Robinson and Clarence Black. Reared by Mattie and Eddie Burkley, Delores was the first of three children between Eddie and Mattie. Dorothy and William were her younger siblings. She also shared two other sisters from Clarence and his wife Mattie Black’s union, Bernadine and Geraldine.
Before graduating from Booker T. Washington High School, she was crowned Ms. BTW her senior year of 1949. After high school, she attended LeMoyne College where she began pledging Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, Inc.; graduating in 1967 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Education. She later earned a Masters of Arts degree in Education from Memphis State University in 1975.
In 1950, she was introduced to the Episcopal faith and became a lifelong member of Emmanuel Episcopal Church. She taught her son, William, to walk by faith by serving as an acolyte for the church.
After graduating with her Bachelors, Delores married Maury Branch, Jr. on August 10, 1968; welcoming his two sons, Marlon and Morel Branch. Together they welcomed their son Maury Branch, III born in 1970, who also served as an acolyte for the Episcopal Church.
Delores began her career with the Memphis City School System at Peabody Elementary School and continued teaching until her retirement from Memphis State University Campus School in 1994. During the summers in between school years, she would tutor pupils from her home on a myriad of subjects like Reading, Writing, Math and English. After retirement, Delores continued to educate for several years. She taught Handwriting to professional adults at State Technical Institute of Memphis, screened preschoolers for the Memphis City School Pre-K Program as well as proctoring exams for the City of Memphis Fire Department’s new recruits.
One of Delores’ talents was the ability to connect with her students and impart her love of reading and writing. She even offered etiquette lessons to her oldest granddaughters during their summer stays at her home.
Socially, Delores was as committed to her community as she was to her students. Though she began pledging Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority at LeMoyne College, it was not until 1982 that she crossed as a member of the “31 Flavors” line. In her church, she was an active member of several organizations, including Emmanuel Episcopal Church Women (ECW), Altar Guild and Saint Luke’s Guild. She also was an avid bridge player, participating in the Debonair Set Bridge Club. Delores enjoyed displaying her exquisite style as a member of the Red Hat Society until deciding to devote all of her spare time to caring for her husband, Maury.
On Wednesday, January 23, 2019, Delores completed her journey as an educator in this world leaving behind a legacy of kindness, grace, strength and faith. She leaves to cherish her memory, her husband, Maury Branch Jr. and sons, Marlon, Morel (LaVina) and Dr. Maury Branch, III (Chealsa). Her son, William James Boone, Jr. (Yvonne), preceded her in death in 2002. Lovingly known as “Mimi” by her grandchildren, Erika, Jicara (Tim), April, Camille, Courtney and Maury, IV. , she always ended visits with her signature phrase “Love you MORE”. A fervent reader, Mimi made sure to share her love of books with her only great-grandchild, William Ryan Gorski.
Delores had four siblings, Dorothy Hobson (Ben, dec.), Bernadine Weir (Andrew, dec.), Geraldine Beckley (Jonas, dec.), William Burkley (Erma) will surely miss her ready-made fashion advice, daily calls and comforting support. William preceded Delores in death in 1987.
Delores’ extended family includes four brother-in-laws, Charles (Molly), Arnold (Roxie) with two preceding her in death, William (Almai) and Clarence (Shirley); two sister-in-laws, Mae Ruth Zimmerman (Sam), Fannie Smith (Percy) and a host of nieces, nephews and cousins.
Serenity Funeral Home and Cremation Society, Tel. (901) 377-3543.
4150 Boeingshire Drive
Memphis, TN 38116