Several months before he died, Charlie Branch told his wife, Lucy, that he preferred to be remembered with a celebration-of-life ceremony on the Auraria Campus.
Now, his wish is becoming reality. A memorial service for the longtime MSU Denver administrator and professor will be held March 20 from 2 to 4 p.m. at St. Cajetan’s Center. Also, an eponymous endowed scholarship fund is being established through the Office of Development. (Details are below.)
Branch, who died Feb. 11 at age 83, started his professional life as a jazz musician and high school band teacher in Kansas in 1952. He came to MSU Denver in 1978 as dean of the School of Education. Over the years he held several other leadership positions, including chair of the Human Services Department, coordinator of the Center for High Risk Youth Studies and dean of the School of Professional Studies. He was a tenured professor of both teacher education and human services.
After retiring, he was named emeritus professor of education. He returned to the University three times between July 2007 and May 2010 as special assistant to the provost for institutional development, temporary special assistant to the provost, and an affiliate faculty member in the Human Services Department. He also volunteered on the History Subcommittee of the 45thAnniversary Committee in 2010.
“He just loved the place…It was his world” says Lucy Branch, a 1980 graduate in technical writing and journalism, whose daughter, Francheska Houlden, is also an MSU Denver grad (’01). “He just liked working and that’s why I believe he kept going back.”
She met her future husband while she working in the University’s public relations office in 1983. He called the office, saying he would be meeting with a student organization, and requested that someone take a picture of the get-together. The regular photographer was out that day, so Lucy filled in.
“We did have a wonderful life together,” she says. “So many people I talk to at Metro State say they thought the world of him.”
Shawn Worthy, associate professor of human services, worked for and with Branch in the department. “I thought he was an amazing man…a true advocate for social justice.” He recalled that Branch signed his emails with an optimistic closer that he still passes on to his son: “Make a great day.”
Sandra Haynes, dean of the school of professional studies, worked with Branch since starting her career at MSU Denver in 1994.“He was my colleague in human services and my chair.He described himself as a company man and would do just about anything for the good of MSU Denver.”
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be given to the Dr. Charles Branch Endowed Scholarship fund at Metropolitan State University of Denver. Checks can be sent to the MSU Denver Foundation, PO Box 17971, Denver, CO 80217-9812; please note “Dr. Charles Branch Scholarship” on the memo line of your check.
Contributions may also be made via the web at make a gift. Choose “Scholarship” in the drop-down menu and note “Dr. Charles Branch” in the “Comments” section. For more information, please contact Steve Galpern, director of development, at 303-556-5005 or email@example.com.
Galpern adds that an email will be sent to all alumni about the memorial service and how to contribute to the scholarship fund.
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