Flags at Statesboro City Hall and the city’s other buildings are flying at half-staff in memory of former Mayor Joe Brannen, who died Tuesday at age 81.
Joe Robert Brannen Sr., who grew up in Portal, began his consumer finance career in Macon and Savannah, but opened the Statesboro Commercial Credit branch office in 1966 and served as branch manager until his retirement in 2006. He then worked with Sea Island Bank until 2013.
His service in Statesboro’s government began with his victory in a special election to City Council in September 1998. He remained a council member more than 11 years, until he ran unopposed for mayor in 2009. Brannen then served a single four-year term as mayor, January 2010 through December 2013. But he was fondly remembered at City Hall and was honored by having a city-owned meeting venue named after him during his lifetime.
“It’s a sad thing to have lost him. He made Statesboro a better place,” current District 4 Councilman John Riggs said in a phone call Thursday.
Brannen also represented District 4, and Riggs, now the longest-serving current council member, was his immediate successor in the council seat. He was sworn in on the same day that Brannen took the oath of office as mayor.
In fact, Riggs is a lifelong friend of Brannen and his family and grew up with two of his sons.
“First of all, he was a fine person, a fine man, a good father and husband … just honest, good Christian values,” Riggs had said on the phone. “He was a fine steward of the public interest, a good steward of Statesboro’s interest. He loved this town.”
Brannen’s survivors include his wife, Cecil Lee Britton Brannen, their four sons and daughters-in-law and their children.
Current Mayor Jonathan McCollar ordered the flags on city property to half-staff beginning Wednesday.
“Mayor Brannen was a true public servant,” McCollar said. “He loved his family and serving the citizens of Statesboro. We are a better city and community because of him. He leaves behind a legacy of hope and compassion. The city will surely miss his gentle spirit.”
This was included in a media release, issued by city Public Information Officer Layne Phillips, stating that the city “with a heavy heart” acknowledged Brannen’s passing.
Allen Muldrew, executive director of the Downtown Statesboro Development Authority, said that Brannen was a part of programs the DSDA uses and was “very supportive at the initial start of City Campus.” More recently called City Center, this is Georgia Southern University’s downtown presence – now with further expansion plans – where the Business Innovation Group offers programs for existing businesses and startups.
“He had what we felt like was a vision to move Statesboro forward, and we always had his support with the Development Authority, and that was very encouraging,” Muldrew told the Statesboro Herald.
Muldrew also attended Statesboro First Baptist Church and the Downtown Statesboro Rotary Club with Brannen.
“He was such a kind and gentle person, but yet a man of vision and dedication, and he was always such a gentleman to be around,” Muldrew said. “It was easy to be a friend with Joe.”
The Joe Brannen Hall
Brannen’s name will continue to be associated with the city of Statesboro whenever events are held at Joe Brannen Hall, 58-A East Main St. The ground-floor meeting space, in what is now the city’s Development Annex, is used for City Council work sessions before the second regular meeting each month, as well as for many meetings of city-appointed boards and commissions.
It is situated between City Hall and Georgia Southern’s Statesboro City Center. Naming the meeting room for Brannen was one way the city government expressed appreciation for his service when he left office as mayor.
Riggs, former District 5 Councilman Travis Chance, Muldrew and architect Bernie Martin are the listed pallbearers for Brannen’s funeral. The members of the Agape Sunday School Class, which Brannen attended at First Baptist Church, are honorary pallbearers.
The funeral is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday at the church, with all CDC-suggested guidelines observed and Joiner-Anderson Funeral Home in charge of the arrangements. The full obituary was published in Thursday’s print edition and remains available at www.statesboroherald.com.