1927 - 2012
The Master of Woodworking
On the afternoon of November 4, 2012, JC, the “Master of Woodworking”
passed away and met his master. JC was born in Snowball, Arkansas
on July 7, 1927 to Claude Branscum and Screpta Branscum. JC was the
eldest child of the family. His mother, younger brother and sister passed away
from the flu when he was around 5 years old. As a child he attended school
in Elba, Arkansas, which had become his hometown. Times were hard in
Arkansas then and JC went to work at an early age to help support his father’s
family as he had remarried. Paul Nixon was an early childhood
friend with whom he worked in his teen years in the lumber
business in Arkansas.
It was in the Elba, Arkansas grade school where he met his
childhood sweetheart, Maxine Sterlin. Elba was a small town in
northwestern Arkansas that had grown with the train tracks going
through the community. Maxine had left Elba and came to Walla
Walla, Washington in 1943 with her sister Madine Richardson.
Maxine returned to Arkansas in 1945 to marry JC for a marriage
of 67 years.
Coming to the Walla Walla Valley in 1945 JC and Maxine settled
into the valley they grew to love. JC worked at first on the Garver
farm along with other relatives who had moved from Elba to Walla
Walla. He then moved on to working at Whitehouse Crawford
Planing Mill. It was there that JC began to learn his mastery of
woodworking. He left for a short time to work on the McNary Dam
project returning to Whitehouse Crawford because he wanted his
family to live in this valley. He worked for Whitehouse Crawford
for 40 years, building custom cabinets that have filled many homes
and businesses in the Walla Walla Valley. He also worked grinding
the molding knives that were used to make much of the molding
in the older Walla Walla homes. Whitehouse Crawford Planing
Mill had around 100 workers in the early 1900s and in the 1930s
and 40s Whitehouse Crawford supplied many of the cabinets for
new homes in the fast-growing California area. When Whitehouse
closed its doors in 1987, JC went on to start his own “JC Custom
Cabinets” business in the same shop he had worked in for many
years in the Whitehouse Crawford building. He worked there for 7
years, which has now become the site of the “Seven Hills” Winery.
The Whitehouse Crawford restaurant was established in the rest of
the building. When the reconstruction of the building was in process,
JC advised the contractor of the old “horse well” that was in the
former wood horse barn attachment to the building, where old tools
and bottles from workers had been tossed over the many years. JC
then moved his “JC Custom” cabinets to a site at the airport where
he loved the view of the Blue Mountains. It was there that he closed
out his successful 15 years of being self-employed, never once having
advertised for work. The “Master of Woodworking” spent 55 years of
his life working with wood. A Yakima newspaper once published an
article about this Northwest woodworking master.
JC loved to keep his home and surroundings in meticulous
condition. He enjoyed going fishing and camping with Maxine. They
took many trips to Central Ferry where they enjoyed their motor
home and boat. JC was dedicated to, and enjoyed spending time with,
his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Family was extremely important to him. One of the best memories
for the family was when, at the family fire pit, he pointed out the first
shooting star of the evening.
JC was preceded in death by his parents, and a brother and sister.
He is survived by his wife, Maxine; his son Bob and wife Phyllis; and
his grandchildren: Robert and wife Angela, Mindy and husband
Richard Watson, Brianna and husband Joshua Hinrichsen; and his
great-grandchildren: Tori, Desi, Tansen, Wysen, Anna Mae, Acesen,
Elyisen, Emily and Draysen.
Viewing and visitation will be held on Wednesday, November 7,
2012, from 1 pm to 7 pm and Thursday from 9 am to 12 pm at
Mountain View-Colonial DeWitt, 1551 Dalles Military Road, Walla
Walla, Washington. The graveside service will be held Thursday,
November 8, 2012 at 2 pm at Blue Mountain Memorial Gardens,
Myra Road, College Place, Washington. A “Celebration of Life”
will be held at a later date for JC.
Friends may write memories and sign the online guestbook