Barbara Branson

Barbara Sue "Harris" Branson


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Obituary of Barbara Sue Branson

Loving Wife, Mother, Friend Barbara Sue Branson (Harris) was born in Saltville, Virginia to Lee Andrew and Sarah Lucille Harris on February 23rd, 1944. Growing up she spent most of her childhood with her loving grandparents, Charles and Virgie Anne Patrick. On October 11th, 1961, Barbara married her high school sweetheart, James Edward Branson, also of Saltville. Shortly thereafter, Jim enlisted in the United States Air Force. Two of their three daughters, Jennifer and Robin, were born in 1961 and 1963. For 22 years the family of four traveled all over the world during Jim’s USAF career. Barbara made homes for the family over 20 times in several different states and in the Philippines. In 1983, Jim retired from the United States Air Force as a Master Sergeant at Patrick Air Force Base, Florida. The same year, Jim and Barbara welcomed their third daughter, Heather Anne. The family has lived in Melbourne, Florida for 37 years. Barbara loved Florida and all the natural beauty the state has to offer. She loved going to the beach, being outdoors working in her garden and yard, and multiple crafts. Barbara dedicated her life to her family. She prided herself in keeping an immaculate home, serving home-cooked meals, and volunteering at the local schools that Heather Anne attended. In 1994, Barbara was diagnosed with an extremely rare autoimmune disease. Wegener’s Granulomatosis, also known as Granulomatosis with Polyangiitis, it had attacked and destroyed one-third of her right lung before she was diagnosed and treated. It took a risky exploratory open-chest surgery and the Mayo clinic to finally determine what was ailing Barbara as no doctors around the area were familiar with the disease. She spent weeks in ICU on a breathing machine, but eventually a combination of chemotherapy drugs and prednisone put her in remission. The disease stayed in remission for about 5 years until reappearing; this time in her legs. Barbara underwent treatment again, and the disease was effectively placed into remission a second time. Although in remission, the damage was done. During exploratory surgery, the remainder of her lungs had been scraped to remove the nodules caused by Wegener’s. In the years that followed, scar tissue developed in her lungs which caused Barbara to suffer from COPD. Because of this, she required the aid of oxygen to breathe. For many years, Barbara was able to be very active. It took a lot to slow her down. Even throughout her illness she was a force of nature. Barbara always said that she was “made of pig iron” – she most certainly was. In 2016, Barbara’s health began to fail her to the point where she was in and out of Melbourne Terrace and Wuesthoff Hospital for treatment of pneumonia and other ailments caused by the affects the Wegener’s had on her body and immune system. The same year, she was receiving home health aide when not hospitalized. Still yet, she never gave up and always had a smile on her face. Barbara had a smile and a kind word for everybody; she never met a stranger. Everyone who met Barbara was touched by her in some way, and Barbara had a way of making even the most hardened heart friendly. In July of 2017, Barbara was admitted to Vitas for hospice care at home. She was estimated to only have about 3 months to live. Always a fighter, she proved all odds and medical opinions wrong once again. Although she couldn’t be as active as she would have liked in what would become her final years, she still treasured time spent with her family. She also loved working on her puzzle and coloring books. In March of 2018, Barbara’s health declined again, and she was no longer able to get out of bed. Again, she was not expected to live longer than a matter of days. Once more, she proved everyone wrong. Even while bed-bound, she still never lost her beautiful, beaming smile, her kind spirit, or love for her family and friends. Hospice nurses who came to care or check on her were always referred to by Barbara as “her friends”; she never met a stranger, and always made sure that everyone she met shared a laugh with her before they left. She never wallowed in self-pity of “why me” when asked about her sickness. Barbara lived her life with faith, love, and selflessness for her family. These things knew no bounds for Barbara, even though her body gave her physical limitations. Barbara continued to fight until her body just wouldn’t allow it any longer. Her spirit left her battle-ridden body on August 4th, 2018; 24 years after her initial diagnosis. She was surrounded by her loving family. Barbara was the epitome of a loving wife, a selfless mother, a caring friend, an incredibly strong woman, and a beautiful spirit. Her family are deeply saddened by her passing, yet so very grateful to have had her. There is no more pain, no suffering, no physical limits any longer; there is only love and eternal peace. She is survived by her husband, James Edward Branson (Boby), daughters Jennifer Lynne, Robin Michelle, and Heather Anne, son-in-law Stephen Arato (married to Heather Anne), grandchildren Peter and Alicia Frumenti, and sisters Louise Cannon and Sara DeLorge. The Branson family would like to give special thanks to Dr. Thomas P. Howard who first diagnosed Barbara in 1994, Dr. Glenn Slomin who has been their family doctor for 24 years, the staff at Vitas with special gratitude to George Gayle and Tiffanie Williams, and the countless others who ever shown a kind gesture or shared a kind word with Barbara and her family throughout the years. The family requests that if anyone wishes to honor Barbara’s memory that they smile a little more, laugh more often, and love with their whole heart. A celebration of life will be held at 1:00pm on Sunday, August 12, 2018 at Ammen Family Cremation and Funeral Care, 1001 South Hickory Street, Melbourne, FL. Donations can be made in Barbara’s name to the Vasculitis Foundation, which researches to hopefully find a cure, cause, and/or other treatments for Wegener’s. The Lord Is My Shepherd A Psalm of David The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.  Amen ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ “You belong among the wildflowers You belong somewhere close to me Far away from your trouble and worries You belong somewhere you feel free.”