Lyle Branson spent his early years in Genoa, Neb. He grew up in a hard-working Christian but impoverished family. He told us of the winter they survived on little more than milk and a fall crop of turnips. During the depression he moved with his family to the Russellville community where he graduated from high school. In the summer of 1942 he joined the multitude of other heroes of World War II enlisting in the Army Air Corp. Lyle was only seventeen and needed his parents' signatures in order to enlist. They agreed to sign, but only with Lyle's promise to get into a safe area such as mechanics. It quickly became apparent that Lyle had "an aptitude for altitude," and he soon found himself in pilot training which led to his commission as a 1st Lieutenant. He served with the 15th Air Force, 484th Bomb Group based in Cerignola, Italy; and during the winter of 1944 and 1945, he piloted his crew of 10 men on 17 missions over enemy territory. His high school and military training and experiences prepared him for what was to follow.
At the end of the War he returned to his bride and set up household near Jefferson City. After a short time as a construction worker he moved his family near Marshall in Saline County to begin farming in partnership with his father. He enrolled in Young Farmer classes provided by the G. I. Bill to learn the better practices in crop and animal production and farm business management. He became known as a smart, hard-working man ... always on the go ... always on the run. He brought mechanization to the partnership with his father. In 1950 he purchased his first piece of land that included an abandoned rural schoolhouse that he salvaged to build a modern home. He soon added another 230 acres of rented land and bought his first of several new and bigger tractors. Upon acquiring new land he would consolidate small fields into larger fields, clear timber, drain and tile wetlands to make it more productive. He used fertilizers, herbicides and the most productive and reliable plant hybrids and varieties, always expanding and always reinvesting into more land and better machinery. In 1970 he, with his wife, were the recipients of the Kansas City Chamber of Commerce Outstanding Achievement in Farm Management Award. When he retired, Lyle was farming 1,200 acres, and his machinery was the latest and best.
Upon retirement Lyle and Nelda left the farm and built a lovely house in southwest Springfield. They eventually sold all their land, sharing the gain with family and church. They travelled the world, taking trips to China, Portugal, Fiji and the Holy Land. Their travels took them to all the continents except Antarctica. They also loved to host family and friends in their home. Lyle was an avid gardener and his yard was the show place of his neighborhood.
Lyle was a member of the First Baptist Church in Springfield where he served as a deacon. He had been raised in the Methodist church and had accepted Christ as his Savior at the age of twelve. His wife was a Southern Baptist and soon after marriage he joined that faith and was baptized by immersion. During his life he was faithful to his church and to his Lord Jesus. He supported his church with tithes, gifts and leadership. In the last hours of his life, his family observed Lyle quietly thanking the Lord for his many blessings.
In addition to his wife and parents he was preceded in death by two sisters, Donna May Branson Nissen and Bethene Ella Branson Goldammer and daughter Kathy Dale Branson; his memory is cherished by his surviving son Gary Duane Branson and his wife, Sharon, and daughters Darla McDonough and her husband, Bob, and Connie Condict; grandchildren Leslie Alan Branson and his wife, Tracy, Chad Branson and his wife, Carrie, Laura Branson Moberly and her husband, John, Erin McDonough Strong and her husband, Steve, Megan McDonough, Cody Condict, Jake Condict, Kinsey Rebekah Condict Rhudy and her husband, Ryan; and 14 great-grandchildren.
His wife, Nelda, the love of his life, said of him, "The thing I most admire is his faithfulness to any project he undertakes."
Graveside services with full military honors were held at 9 a.m. Monday, July 9, 2012, in Missouri Veterans Cemetery. A memorial service followed at 10:30 a.m. in the Chapel of First Baptist church under the care of Gorman-Scharpf Funeral Home. Visitation was held from 6 to 8 p.m. Sunday in the funeral home. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Ash Grove Health Care Auxiliary, c/o Judy Runyon, 400 E. Walker, Ash Grove, MO 65604.
Additional information provided per family recompense.