James E. Branch

James E. Branch

December 08, 1949 - February 19, 2014

James E. Branch

December 08, 1949 - February 19, 2014


James Edward Branch, 64 years old, died on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 surrounded by his loving family. His strength and courage was evident as he moved through his last days, and we all were comforted that his transition from this place of physical and emotional pain and suffering was peaceful.

Jim was born to Gordon and Gladys Branch on December 8, 1949 at St. Mary’s Hospital in Long Beach California, where he grew up and attended schools in Lakewood. Jim stayed close to his childhood home and never lived too far away. In 2004 he moved to Medford, Oregon, but returned to California in June of 2013 to be closer to his sister and family as he struggled with a myriad of medical issues.

His handsome smile and good looks were always on display and boy, did he have a way with words, especially for the ladies! Whether it be the clerk in a store or the server at the restaurant, he would have some wonderful comment. And they weren’t just for the cute ones. He could put a smile on a grandmother just by saying, “You’re beautiful!” You couldn’t walk away from him without a smile on your face.

At age 18 he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps, where he served in Vietnam. His experience there left a Veteran who suffered deeply when he returned. His life would never be the same and his emotional wounds were deep. When he returned from the war, his dad, who owned Branch Tank Lines, taught him everything he needed to know about driving and maintaining 18 wheelers. He idolized his dad and in later years would constantly reflect on times gone by when life was sweet, and he sat in the cab of that giant machine, truckin’ down the highway.

He loved music, and would keep us all in stitches with his imitations of Elvis, Waylon Jennings and others. He had two famous lines that he used throughout his life, “just doin’ my thang” and “heels a clickin’. He loved life and he loved his kids, grandkids and his nieces and nephew. He loved Peterbilts, chili dogs with onions and a cold Budweiser. Roy Beaman and Joe Meads were two of his many elementary and high school friends he stayed close with throughout the years.

Jim is survived by his 3 children, Steven Edward of Lake Tahoe, Jeffrey Allan of Huntington Beach and Jayme Nicole of Long Beach. Also 3 grandchildren, Eliza, Van and Marley and his sister, Patricia Kolstad of Laguna Woods. Nieces, Kari Leslie, Kori Kolstad and Kristen Miranda and nephew Bruce Kolstad, as well as 9 great nieces and nephews. His father and mother preceded him in death.

Visitation will be held on Wednesday, February 26 from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm at O’Connor Laguna Hills Mortuary, 25301 Alicia Parkway, Laguna Hills 92653.

Funeral Services will be held on Thursday, February 27 at 10:00 am at the Mortuary.

Graveside Services will follow the funeral service at Riverside National Cemetery at 1:00 pm.

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10 responses to James E. Branch

  1. barb meads says:

    my name is barbara langford (meads) I grew up with jim being good friends with my brothers joe and steve since i was a young girl. he was a huge part of my life growing up and just talked to him last month when i was at my brother joe’s on the phone. we had a great conversation about all the years gone by and how much fun we all had. he told me how cute i was when i was young singing all the oldies…when they had the gatherings at my parents house. he was a huge presence in our lives and he will be missed…i love you jim..always lil sis…barb xoxoxo

  2. barb meads says:

    Sent a gift in memory of James E. Branch

  3. Jim Harris says:

    My name is Jim Harris, I am Roy Beaman’s younger brother. Jim was like a big brother to me my entire childhood, and a dear friend as adults. He and Chris Nelson even taught me how to drive trucks, a career I worked at for 35 years, just retiring in Dec. 2012. Thanks Jim, for allowing me to learn from the best!! Godspeed my friend, and rest in peace!

  4. My name is Alissa Meads Lipking. I have known Jim Branch my whole life. I will never forget him driving truck and bragging about his daughter Jamie. She and Shelly meant the world to him. Over the years our paths crossed and I loved him dearly. I am sad to say that I couldn’t help him in the end. Jim had the biggest heart and the only thing he really ever wanted was to be with Shelly. He was never the same after he lost her. I hope he has found peace now. I love you Jim. Thank you for being such a big part of our lives. <3 <3 <3

  5. Rick Zehner says:

    Sad to hear the news of Jim’s passing. We lived across the street from the Branch Family on Premiere Street in Lakewood for many years. Jim was always a super nice kid and its sad the effects of war and life in general weighed so heavy on his soul. My brother and I both have fond memories of him and the many happy days of childhood spent together. His unique high pitched laugh and big smiles will never be forgotten! He bought my 1958 Chevrolet Impala from me after he returned from Viet Nam and I still have a picture of him standing by the car with a big smile. May he rest in peace.

    Rick and Ron Zehner

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