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. becky lomaka says:

    Dear Pat, Kari, Michael and family, I am so sorry for your loss. What wonderful photos you have posted! I love the one of Pat and Jim. You are an amazing family! Love to all of you.
    Becky Lomaka and family

  2. Colleen says:

    This is mine.
    I’ve missed the happy Jim I knew for a long time, but am truly grateful that he is now at peace and I just know that he passed with a sigh of relief. God love him.

  3. Colleen says:

    I met Jim & Shelly in the early ‘80s when Joe & I were still living in Fountain Valley. (Jim and Joe ( have known each other since junior high school).
    Jim was a real charmer but always a gentleman. He had the biggest smile, a good sense of humor and a great laugh. He was a handsome man. There was no doubt that Shelly really ‘completed’ Jim. Shelly was a calming, stabilizing force in Jim’s life and they had a good time together. Shelly truly loved Jim. Surely, it wasn’t always easy; I know she did the best she could. There’s no sugar coating it, Jim wasn’t a saint, that’s for sure. But he had this charismatic way about him, I think he could talk his way around just about anything.
    Jim loved his daughter Jamie. He was so proud of her. Jamie was just a little thing when we first met her, maybe 2 yrs or 3 yrs old I think. We all spent many ‘family’ times together at our house and up at Joe’s brother’s house near San Juan Capistrano. Jamie was the light of Jim’s life. He talked about his boys, though unfortunately, I don’t remember ever meeting them.
    Jim had a black Firebird for a while, like in Smokey and the Bandit he was the Bandit he’d say. He loved that car. And Jim loved his trucks! He kept the tanker truck he drove so spit shined and polished you could use it as a mirror. And Jim loved his music; Waylon & Willie, Elvis and the Little River Band. I always think of him driving that truck, playing his music and just singing away.
    But life wasn’t easy for Jim. I don’t think it ever was. After Shelly passed away Jim became just about the most lost, broken soul I’d ever met. It was terribly hard on him and Jim didn’t have the coping abilities to deal with Shelly being gone. He wasn’t the same man I’d met years back. Jim would call me at work almost everyday. It was a very bad time. And then we lost touch. All we knew is that he was on the road somewhere, some how. All of his demons finally came to haunt him. He had no one to take care of him. His only companion was his dog. We’d hear from him every couple of months, but generally never had a way to contact him.
    Eventually, Jim decided to get himself together and through the VA, went into rehab and started living at a half-way house in Long Beach. He was doing good there for awhile but Jim had become a solitary man trying to get straight and could not cope with the environment there or the other people in rehab. He tended to put his trust in less than trustworthy people sometimes, was taken advantage of and no doubt he was not easy to get along with either.
    Jim left Long Beach for Oregon, ultimately settling in Medford where he lived for the last 11 years. In the beginning it was good once he got settled. He found a little duplex and made it his own. Would call us regularly with updates and seemed to be doing very well. He enjoyed decorating his place and cooking – Jim loved his steak and potatoes! He’d made friends with a few neighbors. But eventually his demons came back. He still had not come to terms with Shelly’s passing, was dealing with PTSD and was back to his old ways and bad habits.
    We’d known that Jim was not the best at staying in touch and had become estranged from his family. Jim was not living up to his part, his responsibilities and yet he expected much from life and other people but you’ve got to give it to get it. Love and be loved. Jim and I had many talks about this in the end family is all we have. I urged him constantly to reach out to his kids. I believe that Jim carried a lot a guilt and there was much about himself he would not face. I cared for Jim in spite of him if that makes sense. Though he made me angry many times I could never turn my back on him or shut him out.
    In the end, it was a blessing that Pat brought Jim home. It was not easy and though it may not have been ideal, it was the best any of us could expect.
    We all have our own story of our lives with Jim. This is

  4. Colleen says:

    This is a picture of Jim & Shelly in 1990. They were good for each other.

  5. 1 file added to the tribute wall

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