Orvaldane Branch, 94, New Port Richey, Fla., died Wednesday, July 3, 2013, in Indian Shores, Fla. He was born on May 22, 1919, in Kokomo, to the late William and Lura Branch. Orvaldane married his high school sweetheart, Ruth Mary Pepka, on Dec. 26, 1941, at St. Peter’s Church in Columbia, S.C. She preceded him in death in 2001.
Orvaldane was a graduate of Kokomo High School, where he played varsity football and American Legion baseball. He was a World War II veteran, serving four years with the U.S. Army 4th General Hospital in Melbourne, Australia. While in Melbourne, he played basketball, and baseball with the American All-Stars U.S. Army baseball team, the first American team ever to win an Australian championship, earning it a spot in the baseball hall of fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.
He worked for Chrysler for 35 years. His memberships included St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church, the Knights of Columbus, and UAW Local 685. After retirement, Orvaldane and Ruth enjoyed spending time with friends and family, and their travels took them to many wonderful places.
Orvaldane is survived by his daughter, Pamela Jennings; daughter-in-law, Teresa Branch, and son-in-law, Gerald Smith; grandchildren, Brian and Kristi Smith, Robert and Susie Jennings, Travis Branch, Scott and Rebecca Jennings, Brad and Andrea Smith, Christie Branch, Amy and Joe Kelly, Angie and Geremy Miller, Kelly Jennings; 15 great-grandchildren; several nieces and nephews; and many loving family and friends.
He was preceded in death by his parents, wife, daughter Cecelia Smith, son Orville Branch Jr., eight brothers, one sister, grandson Christopher Smith, and son-in-law Robert Jennings. He will be deeply missed by all who knew and loved him.
A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Friday at St. Patrick Catholic Church, 1229 N. Washington St., with the Rev. Father Michael McKinley the celebrant. Entombment will follow in Sunset Memory Garden Cemetery Mausoleum, with military honors provided by the U.S. Army and the VFW 1152 Military Rites Team. Friends may visit with the family from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Shirley & Stout Funeral Homes & Crematory Lincoln Road Chapel, 1315 W. Lincoln Road, where the Rosary will be offered at 7:30 p.m.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Sts. Joan of Arc and Patrick School Endowment Fund. Messages of condolence may be submitted online at www.shirleyandstout.com.