|Tomas Vara, Sr.
Branon Funeral Home
403 North Austin Avenue
Lamesa, TX 79331
In the early 1920s, Clyde Branon managed a small funeral parlor in Lamesa, TX, and so began a history of service that would span nearly ninety years and four generations. In 1939, the firm was relocated to a new building at 403 N. Austin Street, where the funeral home still stands today. From 1939 to 1964, the firm was owned by the Higginbotham family. However, Clyde Branon and his son, Tom Branon, became owners in 1964, continuing a fine tradition of service. The Branons provided emergency ambulance services until 1975. They became well known for providing excellent care and compassionate service to the Lamesa community for many years to follow.
In 1977, the family was saddened at the loss of Clyde, the original founder of the family business. Tom and his sons Mike and Tommy continued in the long-standing tradition of service to families by going above and beyond to support families in their time of need.
In the late 70s, Tom realized that more and more families were requesting to set aside funds to spare their loved ones from having to pay for funeral services at the time of death. However, Tom was concerned about the quality of third-party prepaid insurance services available at the time. In 1981, he became part of an innovative solution to the question of prepaid funeral funds. Together with three other West Texas funeral directors, Tom helped to establish an insurance company that focused solely on prepaid funeral policies and annuities and stood for financial integrity and long-term, conservative growth. That company, called Funeral Directors Life Insurance Company, has grown far beyond the founders' original vision. It is now a well-respected nation-wide insurance company that was recently recognized by Ward's 50 as one of the top 50 life and health insurance companies domiciled in the United States.
Sadly, Tom never got to see the tremendous success of the company he helped to establish. In 1988, he passed away, and his sons Mike and Tommy took over the family funeral home. Tommy resigned in 2002 to start a new career teaching at Midland College. In 1996, Branon Funeral Home was sold to Loewen; however, Mike had the opportunity to return to the family business in 2007 and once again became owner of Branon Funeral Home. His daughter, Leslie Montz and son-in-law Richard, both licensed funeral directors, joined the business as co-managers that same year.
Both Clyde and Tom dedicated their lives to service, and now, their legacy lives on in their children and their children's children.
Following in his father's and grandfather's footsteps, Mike was a third generation member of the Branon family to become a licensed funeral director and embalmer. After the death of his father in 1988, Mike took the helm as the family leader for the funeral home. He was on the Funeral Directors Life Insurance Company Board of Directors and served on the Executive Committee. For the past 23 years Mike guided the day to day operations of Branon Funeral home. He never wavered in his leadership, and he shared the dedication that his father and grandfather had for the people of Lamesa and surrounding area. Mike was a member of the Texas Funeral Directors Association, the National Funeral Directors Association and the National Eagle Scout's Association. In 2007 he was joined by the fourth generation family member Leslie Branon Montz and her husband Richard.