Richard Boyd “Dick” Bransford, long-time Arkansas farmer, ginner, and cotton industry leader, died Jan. 15 following an injury at his home in Lonoke.
He served as president of the Southern Cotton Ginners Association and the Arkansas-Missouri Ginners Association in 1994 and 1995, and was honored as SCGA Ginner of the Year in 1997. He also served as president of the National Cotton Ginners Association, was a Cotton Incorporated board member for eight years, and was an Arkansas delegate to the National Cotton Council for 16 years.
Born in Little Rock in 1930, he was a 1951 graduate of the University of Arkansas, finishing in only three years. After graduation, he married his childhood sweetheart, Johnnie Carolyn Singleton.
They recalled that they knew, from the first time they exchanged Christmas presents in the third grade, they were meant to be together, they recalled. He gave her a bracelet with her name printed on it and she, in return, presented him with a little green turtle named Hector. Their love and her bracelet survived, but Hector did not.
They moved to Pettus in 1951 and started farming land that had been in the family since the 1840s. He planted seeds that yielded 63 crops, and he and Johnnie had three children: Becky, Rick and Roger.
He dedicated his life not only to his family, friends, and church, but also to his community. While living in Pettus he was a member and deacon at Caney Creek Baptist Church. When the family moved back to Lonoke in 1966, they joined Lonoke Baptist Church and built their present day home in town.
His local community service included serving on the Lonoke School Board for four years, Lonoke City Council for 20 years, and First State Bank Board of Trustees for many years. He was also president of the Lonoke Cemetery Association, starting in 1980, and after five years of tireless dedication to the cemetery he and Johnnie were awarded the 1985 Governor's Volunteer Excellence Award.
At the state level he served on the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Board of Visitors for 12 years, was honored as the 1985 Arkansas Farm Family of the Year, served on the Arkansas Agriculture Council from 1986 to the present, and was inducted into the Agriculture Hall of Fame in 2001.
He was a lifelong, diehard Razorback fan, a season ticket holder from 1958 to the present, and always loved and followed his Hogs, including a seven-year stretch of never missing a home or an away game. The last football game he was able to watch was a win over Texas in a bowl game, and anytime you beat Texas, it’s a great day! Whoo Pig!
Dick honored his faith, family and politics with passion, especially his beloved Democratic party. A good story was enjoyed as much as a devilish prank. He was generous, almost to a fault, with his time. energy and resources. Loving to solve a problem, he never shied away from a challenge. He enjoyed riding a horse through the deer woods of south Arkansas, having a kitty curled up in his lap at home, playing golf at Rolling Hills Country Club, and dining out with friends and family. He was comfortable plowing a field one day and the next going to the Oval Office and telling the President how to do his job in regards to issues involving agriculture.
He was preceded in death by his father, Thomas J. Bransford, and mother, Natalie Barton Bransford Norbury, both Lonoke natives, and his brother and sister-in-law, Tommy and Emily Anne Bransford of Hot Springs.
He is survived by his wife of 64 years, Johnnie Carolyn Singleton Bransford of Lonoke; children, Becky (Bill) Paxton, Poplar Bluff, Mo.; Rick (Susan) Bransford, Lonoke; and Roger (Susan) Bransford, Memphis. His grandchildren are Dr. Sara (Tyler) Blair, Little Rock; Sloan and Taylor Paxton, Poplar Bluff; Ellen Bransford, Memphis; and Alex Bransford, Las Vegas.
A service celebrating the life of Dick Bransford was held Monday, Jan. 19, at Lonoke Baptist Church.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Lonoke Baptist Church. 406 Front St., Lonoke, AR 72086; the Lonoke Cemetery Association, P.O. Box 761, Lonoke, AR 72086-0761; the Arkansas Children's Hospital; or a charity of the donor’s choice.