Bryan Willis Brabston Jr.
Bryan Willis Brabston Jr. of Vicksburg, age 86, passed away Sept. 6, 2019, in Ridgeland after a long illness.
A native of Vicksburg, Brabston was married to Joy Banks Brabston for 64 years. He was the son of Bryan Willis Brabston Sr. and Natalie Newell Brabston, who preceded him in death, as well as a brother, William Newell Brabston and a dear cousin, Stacy Hoggatt.
Brabston graduated from St. Aloysius High School. He served in the U.S. Army and was a member of the U.S. Army Security Agency and ASA Korea. After serving in Korea, he enrolled at Mississippi State University and graduated with highest honors with a Bachelor of Science `in civil engineering.
He was a member of the following honor societies: Omicron Delta Kappa, Blue Key, Tau Beta Pi, Phi Kappa Phi, Phi Eta Sigma and Sigma Phi Epsilon social fraternity. He also attended Rutgers University and was a graduate of the LSU executive program.
After graduation, Brabston began his long career with ExxonMobil Corp. His first assignment was in Baton Rouge, La. He was transferred to Chicago, Ill., in the position of sales representative and from there to New York City, where he worked in marketing at 30 Rockefeller Center. He ended his career where he started, in Baton Rouge.
Bryan and Joy lived in Zachary, La., for 18 years, and Bryan moved up through the ranks at the Exxon Chemical plant. His final assignment was public affairs manager, which also involved lobbying with the Louisiana Legislature. During this time he received many awards, including one from the Louisiana press corps for his outstanding contributions to the environment. This was the first time anyone from a chemical plant had received this award. He was president of the Baton Rouge press corps and chairman of the Louisiana Emergency Response Committee. He was appointed a colonel on the staffs of Governors David Treen and Edwin Edwards.
He was elected several times as alderman of the city of Zachary, La. and served as chairman of the board. He was twice elected president of the Zachary Rotary Club. He served for a number of years as a member and chairman of the Board of Lane Memorial Hospital in Zachary. He received numerous awards in connection with these organizations.
On Nov. 11, 1965, he survived a major crash of United Airlines flight 227 from Denver, Colo., to Salt Lake City, Utah.
Half the people on the flight died, and he was credited with going back into the airplane several times pulling people to safety.
Upon retirement from ExxonMobil, he fulfilled his childhood dream and returned to Linden Plantation in Vicksburg.
The original plantation was owned by John Wesley Vick and Brabston’s great aunt, Anne Marie Brabston. The land has stayed in the Brabston family since 1827.
By the time of Brabston’s retirement, the original house had burned and the land turned into disrepair. After 10 years of work on the grounds, 15 acres of gardens were established by his wife, and a new home was built on the original house site in the 1990’s.
Because of many requests, the house and gardens were opened to the public for tours and a small cabin was used as a bed and breakfast venue. At its peak times, they had over 1,000 visitors a year.
Brabston immediately became involved in civic endeavors in Vicksburg. He served as president of the Vicksburg Rotary Club and president of the board and campaign chairman of United Way. He was made a lifetime member of the Public Relations Association of Mississippi.
He was also an avid sportsman and hunter.
Brabston is survived by his wife, Joy Brabston; three children, Barbara Welsh (Darrel) of Baton Rouge, Bryan Willis Brabston III of Vicksburg, and Maura Jelliffe (Martin) of Ridgeland; three grandchildren, Katie Moore (Jackson) of Knoxville, Tenn., Rebekkah Price (TJ) of Muscle Shoals, Ala., and Bryan Willis Brabston IV of Mobile, Ala.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Alzheimer’s Association of Mississippi or St. Alban’s Episcopal Church. Special thanks to the caregivers at Beau Ridge Memory Care Assisted Living and also Compassus Hospice.
Services will be conducted at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Bovina by Deacon Elisabeth Malphurs.
Visitation will be at St. Alban’s at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 14, followed by the funeral service at 11 a.m. Burial will follow at the family cemetery on Linden Plantation.
As a child, he stated that he would one day return to Linden and his greatest dream has been fulfilled.
Pallbearers will be Al Barfield, Thomas Brabston, Noel Crook, Curvey Landry, Jim Lopez, Thomas McCleskey and Jimmy Vessell.
Honorary pallbearers will be Tom Herrod, William Patrick Brabston, Jr. and the officers and board of the Vicksburg Rotary Club.