January 13, 1917 - March 8, 2019
Service: Mass of Christian Burial, 10 am Wednesday March 13, 2019 at St. Patrick Cathedral. Burial: Greenwood Memorial Park.
Following the burial, a reception will be held at Rivercrest Country Club.
Memorials: If you wish, donations can be made in his honor to the Helen and Mark J. Brannon, Jr. Endowed Scholarship in Petroleum Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin, Cockrell School of Engineering, 301 E. Dean Keeton St. Austin, Texas 78712.
Mark J. Brannon Jr., 102, passed away peacefully while holding the love of his life’s hand on Friday, March 8, 2019.
Mark was born on January 13, 1917 in Augusta, Kansas to Mark J. and Betty Barclay Brannon. He is the 2nd of 4 generations of Brannon’s in the oil business that his father started in 1912. Mark graduated from UT Austin in 1941 with a degree in Petroleum Engineering. Upon graduation, Dr. George Fancher, head of the UT Petroleum Engineering department, offered to keep him stateside to help the oil industry fuel the war, but he decided to volunteer for the US Navy V-Seven Officers Program training at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland and became a Naval officer, some called this program’s graduates a “90 day wonder”. Next, he taught at the startup Officer Indoctrination School at the Harvard University campus, then deployed to the USS Hutchins DD-476, a Fletcher Class destroyer where he was promoted to Lieutenant and Chief Engineer leading a team of 83 men (of the 300 aboard). He served in several battles in the Philippines, including the invasion of Leyte, and his final battle was the famed attack on Iwo Jima, one of the bloodiest battles and a strategic win in WWII. Mark was awarded the Bronze Star with Combat V distinction for his meritorious achievement at the Battle of Surigao Strait. Mark’s father was killed in a drilling rig explosion so he returned to the oil business in 1945. After a short time working for Burt Fields Oil Co., Burt co-signed a note for Mark to start his own drilling rig business and he took charge of his dad’s business Brannon & Murray Drilling Co., a partnership that started in 1919 and still exists today.
Mark met the love of his life, Mary Helen Jones, in 1950 on a blind date to a Dallas pro football exposition game and they married in 1951. They enjoyed 68 incredible, loving years together filled with hunting and fishing trips, building a family, traveling the world, drilling wells and building businesses together. At his 100th birthday party he told the story of not knowing her age until after they were engaged only to find out she was almost 13 years younger than him.
Mark created, ran, and invested in numerous successful energy ventures and oil companies, drilling wells in Texas and New Mexico with offices in Farmington NM, Coleman, and Fort Worth. He had an incredible work ethic that inspired all that knew him, he frequently said “you have to work hard enough to get lucky”. His inspiration led to two more generations of Petroleum Engineer graduates from UT Austin.
Mark wrote two books, at age 88 he wrote “A Tour of Duty ‘42-‘45” and at age 94 he narrated “The Brannon Chronicles”. Mark was active in the oil business all the way to the end, still coming to the office at the age of 101. He stayed extremely fit by walking several miles daily in his 90’s and at 102 he still walked half a mile plus 45 minutes a day on his exercise bike.
Mark was a role model for all his kids and grandchildren, a true leader with a very generous and loving heart. He is and will be greatly missed. He will remain in our thoughts forever continuing to guide us.
Mark is preceded in death by his sister Phyllis Brannon Emmer, brothers Dick, Ted, and Billy Bob, and his best friend and lifetime business partner WJ (Bill) Murray Jr. who he considered his brother.
Mark is survived by his loving wife of 68 years Helen Jones Brannon, sister Kathleen Brannon Inglish, sister in law Mary Judson Brannon, sons Mark J. Brannon III and wife Ricki, Jack D. Brannon and wife Mara, Richard (Dick) Brannon and wife Liz, grandchildren Carrie Brannon Singer and husband Andy, Mark J. (Joe) Brannon IV and wife Kiley, Devlin Brannon, Kyle Brannon, Brittany Brannon Hasselbach and husband Kris, Richard D. Brannon Jr. and wife Lauren, great grandchildren Mark J. Brannon V and twins Zachary and Logan Singer along with numerous nieces and nephews.