December 17, 1914 - November 4, 2019
Mass of Christian Burial: 10 a.m. Monday, November 11, 2019 in the Chapel of St. Andrew Catholic Church.
Interment: 2 p.m. Monday in Willow Wild Cemetery, Bonham, Texas.
Kathleen Mae Brannon Inglish died in Fort Worth, Texas, on November 4, 2019, at the age of 104, just six weeks short of her December birthday. She was one of the early woman attorneys, licensed to practice in Texas on December 15, 1936, at the age of 21.
Kathleen was born in 1914 at Tulsa, Oklahoma, to Mark and Betty Brannon. Her father was a rig contractor in the oil booms of the Southwest, her mother a graduate of a business/secretarial school in Illinois. As a preschooler, she moved from Tulsa to oil towns in Kansas and then to boom towns in Texas. She was educated from age five at Our Lady of Victory Academy, at that time a girls’ college-prep boarding school in Fort Worth, established by the Sisters of St. Mary of Namur in 1910. She and her sister were local students who walked to school from their nearby home.
In the depth of the Great Depression, Kathleen graduated from Our Lady of Victory. She moved with her family to Longview into the center of the East Texas oil boom. She began attending classes at Tyler Business College. While dating, she would visit the Longview law office of Judge Banks, an appellate lawyer specializing in oil & gas, this attorney being the relative of her beau. She landed her first job as a secretary in this law office. Judge Banks was intrigued by Kathleen’s interest in the law. He served as her mentor, asking her to sit in and observe meetings with attorneys, and gave her an edition of Blackstone’s treatise on the Common Law. When this oil & gas attorney moved his office to Houston, Kathleen transferred also, under the protective eye of Judge Banks’ long-time secretary, Miss Essie. Kathleen began taking night courses at the downtown law school, now South Texas College of Law, upon Judge Banks encouraging her to “read law” and obtain her law license. Her introduction to oil & gas law may have come as a child, going with her father to a Fort Worth hotel lobby on Sunday afternoons, where she and her sister were treated to ice cream while observing her father make contacts and job contracts and generally talking oil field business.
When time came to take her State Bar exam, an attorney prospect in those days went to Austin to take the exam in the State Capitol building, in her case in the Chamber of the House of Representatives. Kathleen’s mother, Betty, went with her to Austin for morale support. When news came that Kathleen had passed the Bar, Judge Banks took her to be sworn in by one of the justices at a private ceremony in the Texas Supreme Court chambers.
After her law firm dissolved after Judge Banks’ sudden death, Kathleen moved to Fort Worth to work with an appellate firm. She was shunted into administrative work, not being able to work with the firm’s clients. While in Fort Worth, she took college courses at TCU. She moved on to Dallas to work in the legal department of Murray Mortgage. While in Dallas, she began an early-WWII pilot-training program at Love Field, aimed at creating a pool of civilian pilots who could assist domestically in the war effort as couriers, flying planes and generals from base to base. She took her final flight test at an airfield in Coleman and thus earned her pilot’s license, while visiting her parents’ home in that Central Texas town.
Soon after, Kathleen took a job in New Orleans as a land attorney in the leasing department for the California Company, one of the Standard oil companies. She remained in this position until she moved to Houston in the mid-1950’s to marry her husband Jim Ned (James Edward) Inglish. While in New Orleans, Kathleen took college classes at Tulane.
She met Jim at a company dance in New Orleans in 1955, Jim being a claims agent for Texaco and based in Houston.
During the Houston years, Kathleen practiced Wills and Trust law from their home and she served as a community volunteer, giving her the freedom to join Jim when he traveled for work.
Blanco Days. At Jim’s retirement from Texaco, the couple moved to a home on Rocky Road in Blanco, Texas, in 1963. Kathleen resumed her law practice in Wills and Estates while Jim worked as a realtor. Kathleen was a member of the Travis County Bar Association and routinely took legal seminars. Twice she also served as interim County Judge for Blanco County at the request of the County Commissioners. At the retirement of the then local judge, she was asked to run as the candidate for office of County Judge. Jim’s failing health precluded that move. In 1986, with her attorney niece looking on, Kathleen proudly received her 50-year State Bar pin at the State Bar Convention, held that year in June in Houston. She continued to live in Blanco and do legal work until she closed her practice and returned to Fort Worth in 2008.
After Jim’s death in the fall of 1989, while continuing to practice law, she served in multiple community organizations and clubs. The Blanco County News in its article published September 17, 2008, about Kathleen, reported “the extraordinary impact one woman has had on a small Texas town.” She guided both the Blanco Library and the Old Blanco County Courthouse Preservation Society to be established as federal non-profits and served as the President of both Boards. She helped the library to buy their current building and led fund-raising efforts for both the library and the saving/restoring of the Old Blanco County Courthouse. She was an active volunteer at St. Ferdinand’s Catholic Church in Blanco.
In the 1960’s, Kathleen served as a docent at the LBJ Ranch in Johnson City. “The White House called,” she recounts. “I was cleared to visit the ranch and meet Lady Bird.” The Blanco County News quotes Kathleen that “The association lasted for a number of years, during which time she … was entertained by Lady Bird and other docents each summer.”
To reach these countless community meetings around Blanco, Kathleen drove her yellow Mercedes with its yellow enamel hubcaps.
From childhood on, Dance, Musicals, and good clothes always put a sparkle in Kathleen’s eye and she adored travel. She visited war-scarred Rome in the late 40’s. In the 50’s, she and her mother were in Jerusalem and took a day trip into Damascus. Before the tour was done, their American Express driver insisted they return immediately to Jerusalem; they crossed the border back into Israel just as the Syrian border closed. Around the world she went on a cruise with Jim. She was back in Rome at least twice with Brannon family in later years. She was in China and had just left Beijing during the time, unknowingly to her, of the Tiananmen Square Massacre in June of 1989. She camped on the sand dunes of Algeria. She did an African safari and was at the foothills of the Himalayas in Nepal. In 2006, at the age of 91, she flew to London for her great-niece Kathleen’s wedding on a hot August day. She was stuck an hour on the wedding transport blocked by a large crowd of demonstrators in Hyde Park. The day she flew home, August 10th, 1996, the day of the London gel bomb scare, she went without a meal till five in the afternoon after being sequestrated at Gatwick without food and only limited water all day. Her plane was the first one out of Gatwick into American air space and on to DFW this day when passenger liquids and gels were first banned from air cabin luggage. She took this day of chaos in stride with her usual calm demeanor.
Kathleen, the second child, is the last to die in her family, her siblings being her sister Phyllis Emmer, and four brothers: Mark, Dick, Ted, and Bill Brannon. She is survived by her sister-in-law, Helen Jones Brannon of Fort Worth. She leaves many Brannon and Emmer nieces and nephews and Jim’s two nieces, many with whom she has closely shared her life. She has taught one nephew country dancing, traveled overseas with others, and inspired two nieces to become lawyers.
Recognition goes to the women who most tenderly and devotedly cared for Kathleen as she journeyed into the second century of her life: Alona Washington, Dalila Ramirez, Lupe Mendoza, and Sammie Vaughn.
Bonham, Texas, was known in early Texas days as Fort Inglish, was founded in 1837 by Bailey Inglish, the great grandfather of Jim. Kathleen’s grave will lie next to that of her deceased husband in the family plot in Willow Wild Cemetery in Bonham.