She was born Oct. 7, 1924, in Beeville, Texas to William Ward and Pearl Johnson Harris. She was an internationally known artist with works in both watercolors and oils. She grew up in Live Oak County where her family farmed and ranched. Upon graduation from high school, she taught school in Mountain View, Texas in a one-room school house riding her gray mare, Gracie, to and from the ranch every day.
She later worked as secretary for the superintendent and principal in the Refugio schools. She began painting as a child, self-taught and working only in watercolors. As a teenager, a friend encouraged and helped her do one oil painting. She went through a long period of self-training again, this time in oils. She later studied commercial art in college, and fine art under private instruction in the technique of the old masters. Later in her art career, she provided private instructions and taught art classes. Exhibits include such important invitational shows as the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame at Hereford, Texas, Western Art Show sponsored by the Alamo Kiwanis Club of San Antonio, The First Atlanta Art Show, August Ga., and many other shows over the U.S., on television and on a European tour sponsored by the Center of Studies and International Cultural Exchanges in Italy. Awards have been numerous. Her works hang in the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame, the Dr. Pepper Museum and Free Enterprise Institute, Waco, Texas, and in many distinguished private collections, including those of former President and Mrs. George H. Bush; former Texas Governors, John Connally and Dolph Briscoe and their families; famed heart specialist, Dr. Denton Cooley and many others. Mrs. Branstetter is named in Who’s Who of American Art, by Bowker Publishers of New York, New York, in Who’s Who of American Women and Who’s Who in the South and Southwest, by Marquis of Chicago, and Two Thousand Woman of Achievement, by Kay Publishers of England.
Mrs. Branstetter was very civic minded and donated many work of art to local organizations and businesses in the Refugio area.
She was preceded in death by parents, William Ward and Pearl Johnson Harris; her husband, Cecil Branstetter; brothers, Edwin Harris, Ecil Harris, and Lendsy Harris.
Survivors include sons, Ronnie (Sharon) Branstetter of Waco, Texas, Reagan (Mary) Branstetter of Tuscon, Ariz. and Randy (Deborah) Branstetter of Kingsville, Texas; brothers, Edgle Harris of George West, Texas and Weldon Harris of Jourdanton, Texas; sisters, Marbel Lindsey of Llano, Texas, Bernardene Heyn of Old Ocean, Texas and Yvonne Morin of El Campo, Texas; seven grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren.
Visitation was held Saturday, Nov. 7, 2009, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Moore Funeral Home Chapel in Refugio. The funeral service was held Sunday, Nov. 8, 2009, at 1 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church in Refugio, Texas, with Rev. Don Liljestrand officiating.
A graveside service will follow at 4 p.m. at White Creek Cemetery, White Creek Community, in Live Oak County. Pallbearers will be Donnie Harris, Stanley Harris, Dale Branstetter, William Branstetter, Stephen Sylvester, Kurt Heyn, Rodney Harris and Roger Harris.
Moore’s Funeral Home, Refugio, Texas.