Jeannie Sexton Branum, of Oklahoma (Formerly of Harriman)

Jeannie Sexton Branum, age 71, went home to be with the Lord on Thursday, May 20th, 2021. Esther Jean Sexton was born in Harriman, Tennessee on June 19, 1949 to Imogene Newcomb Sexton and James Bart Sexton, Jr. As a child she became known as Jeannie or, if your from “The Holler”  you called her “Tuzzy”. Jeannie graduated from Harriman High School in 1967 and in December of the same year she married her one and only true love, Charles Andrew Branum, Jr.; also known as Chuck or Sonny,or, if your from “The Holler” you called him “Shafer”. To this union were born two children, Brandii in July 1969 and Travis in September 1973.

Chuck and Jeannie raised their little family, for the most part, in Harriman with a few moves sprinkled in the early years for work. Jeannie took great pride in being an excellent homemaker, wife, mother and most of all, Child of Christ. She worked outside the home for most of her life; a few of the places she worked are Burlington Hosiery Mill and  Red Cap Industries. In 1983, Jeannie began her pursuit of a degree at Roane State Community College, while working for most of that time. She completed her Associate Degree in 1987. Her degree meant so very much to her, and rightly so, because she went to school, worked a job, managed two kids who played sports year round and built a new home with Chuck and Chuck’s brother, Bobby Clark.

Jeannie began her employment at RSCC in the Nursing and Criminal Justice Department; then advanced to Administrative Assistant to the Dean of Students. During this time she made life long friends with her co-workers and the students, who she adored. She left RSCC for a small stint as Treasurer for the Town of Harriman, but her true love called her back…the students at Roane State Community College. Jeannie retired from RSCC in 2008 to spend time in Oklahoma with Brandii, her son-in-law Mike Linville and their children Maggie Kendrick, Andrew Jacob, and twins Natalie Dane and Ryder Lane. She spent the next four years following her grandkids all over Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas cheering them on in athletic events and band and vocal contests.

In 2012, Travis and his wife, Trina (nee Nix) had their first child Charley Breanda, and Jeannie began spending more time in Harriman to spend time with the new baby. Another baby for Travis and Trina soon followed, Elsie Kate, and Jeannie was on hand to help with the babies and to spend time with them and watch them grow daily. She had been able to spend time with her grandkids in Oklahoma as pre-teens and through their graduation from high school, and now she had the opportunity to watch two of her grandbabies grow from birth,

In between her trips to Oklahoma, Jeannie spent her time with her quilting friends, traveling all over to bowl in tournaments, shared many days with “the cousins”, participating in activities at Big Emory Baptist Church, and still followed all six of her grandkids as they grew and found their places in God’s Kingdom.

In 2017, Jeannie became ill with an unidentified illness. She went to many doctors before finally getting a diagnosis of Idiopaethic Pulmonary Fibrosis. By November 2020, she received the prognosis that she had already lived 3 years than predicted. Jeannie made the decision to focus on the quality of her life and not the quantity of her life. Her children, their spouses and her grandchildren, especially Maggie, who had just received her RN and helped explain terminology we couldn’t understand, all teamed up to provide care for their Mom, their Maw, their Mom #2, their Nanny, till she took her last breath.

There are many, many, people who sent cards, flowers, gift cards, gifts, brought food and offered respite care, if needed. We could not have made her last months so comfortable, and having the quality she craved, without all of you. There are a few people I would like to mention at this time and I want you all to know that whatever favor you offered us and Jeannie, it made her life better!

Joyce Clark Allen, Jeannie’s sister-in-law, came to stay during the days so that Brandii could continue part-time work at Roane County Health Department. She also stayed day and night when Brandii went to Oklahoma in May, and she did this with much love and care. Also staying for part of that time was Donna Hodges. Donna is part of “the cousins” that Jeannie met a few years ago and became family. Donna and her husband Dana were as close as brothers and sisters could be.

While living in Oklahoma, Jeannie reconnected with an old Harriman friend who now resided in Texas, Jody Vanover. Jeannie and Jody traveled quite a bit out west and when Jody retired back to Roane County, she and Jeannie stayed the best of friends, having coffee daily.

Jeannie gained many friendships through the women her brothers brought in to their lives. James Sweat, her youngest brother, married Pam Frost, and she and Jeannie became lifelong friends. Russ Sexton married Lisa Paumen, and she and Jeannie found they both loved plants, gardens, antiques, and picking on Russ!

Jeannie was preceded in death by her husband of 27 years, Chuck Branum; her mother, Imogene Newcomb Sweat; her father, James Bart Sexton, Jr.; a step-mother, Peg Sexton; a step-father, Andy Sweat; a brother, John Arthur Sweat; special cousin/sister, Patricia Dutton Murphy; her uncle, Leland Bodine; maternal grandmother Gertrude Newcomb and paternal grandmother Maggie Sexton Collett, who helped raise Jeannie and taught her about Christ’s love. She was preceded in death by many other aunts, uncles, cousins and great-grandparents that were very special to her and impacted her life.

Jeannie leaves behind her daughter, Brandii Branum Linville, her husband Mike, and their children Maggie Kendrick, Andrew Jacob, Natalie Dane and Ryder Lane; her son Travis James Branum, his wife Trina (nee Nix) and their children Charley Breanda and Elsie Kate. Her nephew William “Bosk” Murphy who is more son than nephew and his wife, Jen.  Her brother, Russ Sexton, his wife Lisa Paumen and their son Cody, his wife Saundra and their children. Her brother James Sweat, his wife Pam and their three daughters; sister Billie Ann and her husband and children; sister Nancy Ruth and her family, sister Andrea Kay and her family; her uncle William Newcomb, his wife Nancy Dee, and their family; her sister-in-law Joyce Clark Allen and her family; special friend Jody Vanover and her fur babies; and especially her sister in Christ, Sunday School Teacher and physician, Mimi Tedder and Dr. Tedder’s office staff, who made our transition to hospice much easier; the staff at Amedisys Home Health and Hospice and Sherry and her staff at Live and Let Live Drugstore.

Jeannie also leaves behind the hundreds of people who enhanced and enriched her life to the fullest. Her co-workers and students at RSCC, her church family at Big Emory Baptist Church, her quilting and sewing friends, The Cousins and the friends she made in Beaver, OK; Dustin Huntley, Will & Whitney Payne and their three children Benton, Bodie and Braidy Jo, Whit’s parents, The Hardins, Will’s Grandmother, Mrs. Barby, Brent and Christi Lansden and their kids, Gunnar, Averi and Devyn, Jan Fisher, Kristy Flowers and Tammy Millikan. The kids who played ball with the Linvilles, all called Jeannie “Nanny”. She has stayed in touch with many of them via Facebook, those connections meant so very much to her!

Anyone who met Jeannie left an imprint on her heart and, hopefully, she left a positive impact on theirs. Jeannie’s motto this last year has been “ I have talked the talk, now I have to walk the walk”, meaning, she has praised Jesus in the highs and she will praise him in the lows. She did just that, rarely having a day where she questioned her illness or the indignities she suffered. When her family and friends wept at her pain and discomfort, she said, “It could always be worse”.

I know I have left out someone or group of people, please accept my apologies and know that Jeannie loved you all and she cherished every single memory. Jeannie and her grandson, Andrew, shared memes on Facebook, some of Andrew’s drew the “mad emoji” from Jeannie, due to the language or content, but there was one they both loved:

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely, in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, “WOW, WHAT A RIDE!”

Graveside and interment service will be held on Tuesday, May 25th, 2021 at 2:00 pm in the Roane Memorial Gardens in Rockwood, TN with Rev. Willie Gallaher officiating. Evans Mortuary is serving the family of Mrs. Jeannie Sexton Branum.

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