Veteran’s done it all
Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 2, 2011
Just call LaFelt C. Brannon a jack-of-all-trades. He’s done it all, his daughters said Thursday.
The 90-year-old World War II veteran and participant in the inaugural Covington Region Honor Flight was honored for one of his many talents Thursday during a reception and art exhibit at the Andalusia Public Library.
Brannon began painting at age 78, and said he “just picked it up.”
Brannon’s daughter Patty Sutton said he began to have health problems and that “he’s the type of person who must have something to do.”
“He decided to dabble in it,” she said. “Since he had always been able to draw, it was suggested that he try oil painting.”
Brannon’s daughter Cathy Bozeman is an artist as well and showed him the basics.
“He also took a few painting lessons from Frances Patterson and Linda Rawls at R.J.’s in Sanford,” she said.
Brannon, affectionately known as “Mr. B.,” has been painting ever since, and he has won several awards at the Covington County Fair for both his oil and acrylic paintings.
His work is mainly displayed in the homes of his children, church family, relatives and other friends.
“We get them for Christmas presents,” Sutton said. “In fact, sometimes it’s nearly a knock-down, drag-out between my sister and me as to which one of us gets the next painting.”
Since learning to paint, Sutton said her father’s spirits have brightened.
“It’s given him a mission,” she said. “He can’t be idle. He has a daily ritual – he goes and has breakfast with his friends and then settles in at his easel.”
His girls are proud of their papa and say he’s done nearly anything one can think of in terms of careers and trades.
“He’s built houses without blueprints,” Bozeman said. “He’s been a mechanic, cotton mill worker, welder, a carpenter, a farmer, house painter, electrician, plumber, truck driver and a cabinet maker. Most of his life, he has held more than one job at a time.”
Brannon’s first job, after he persuaded his father to let him quit the seventh grade, was working at Pete Bank’s cabinet shop in Andalusia. Next, he worked for the NYA putting roofs on school buses and building school desks. Farm work was also a part of daily life for Brannon.
In 1941, he was drafted into the Army, where his involvement in World War II began on the front lines of Omaha Beach. He was seriously wounded at Omaha Beach during the war.
After spending month recuperating in a hospital in Birmingham, England, he was sent back to the front lines. He was honored with the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Expert Infantry Badge, Good Conduct and the Combat Infantry Badge.
After the war, Brannon married Lois Jeanette Mitchell, and the couple was married 59 years before her death in 2008. The couple had three children, Sutton, Bozeman and Victor Brannon.