Pointing to the vacant chair where Pearl Bransford sat for 13 years as city of Franklin alderman at large, Franklin Mayor Ken Moore led an emotional tribute to the beloved public servant at Tuesday night’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting.
“Her passing has left a big void for all of us,” he said of Bransford, who died Nov. 27 at the age of 67 from cancer.
With Moore’s introduction, the city’s seven aldermen reflected on the impact Bransford had made on each, either in a personal way or through their observations in how she interacted with the public she served, her many friends and even strangers who may have just met her.
Tuesday’s tribute also included comments from City Administrator Eric Stuckey, as well as a video that featured numerous photos of Bransford through the years with family, friends, city staff and fellow aldermen.
In addition, Moore announced the creation of a scholarship fund in honor of Bransford, for an individual or individuals pursuing the study of health sciences through Columbia State Community College.
Most of the current aldermen had served with and known Bransford since she was first elected to the board in 2007. Alderman Margaret Martin, 4th Ward, went back even further.
“She was a true lady,” Martin said. “I’ve learned a lot from Pearl. Our relationship goes back a long way. … I feel like she’s just one of those people that’s always been my friend, and I can’t imagine going on without her. But she would say, ‘Margaret, get up and go on.’”
Bransford also made an impact on the board’s newest alderman, Scott Speedy, who was elected to the 3rd Ward in 2017.
“She was always very gracious to me as a newcomer on the board,” Speedy said. “Even when I was out knocking on doors [campaigning], she invited me in her house on Granbury street and spent 15 minutes with me then.”
Scholarship represents Bransford’s commitment to Columbia State
According to a press release, the Pearl Bransford Memorial Scholarship is being created in conjunction with Franklin Tomorrow and her family, but is open for contributions from the public.
Franklin Tomorrow will collect initial donations and it is the intent of organizers to endow the scholarship through Columbia State Community College in the first quarter of 2021.
Bransford was a resident of Franklin for more than 35 years, spending almost 25 years as an elected official in Franklin, first for 11 years on the Franklin Special School District Board of Education and then 13 years as a member of the Franklin Board of Mayor and Aldermen.
Her public service was an amplification of her professional career in nursing. She received a B.S. in Nursing from Tennessee State University, a B.S. in Health Arts from University of St. Francis, Joliet, Ill., and an M.S. in Nursing from Vanderbilt University. She served in a variety of leadership and teaching roles during her 18 years at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and was highly respected by the professionals and students with whom she worked.
Bransford was the recipient of the 2008 Booker Award which recognizes citizens who are living examples of those who value education and the obligation one has to make their own community.
In being one of the first donors to the fund, Mayor Moore said he and his wife, Linda, felt the establishment of a scholarship in Alderman Bransford’s honor was in keeping with her support of education, the health sciences, and Columbia State Community College. She and her husband, Henry “Hank” Bransford, were supporters of the construction of the Williamson County campus on Liberty Pike, with a classroom bearing a plaque honoring their financial contribution.
“Alderman Bransford’s work as a member of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen and on the Franklin Special School District Board of Education has had a lasting impact and this fund will ensure her legacy in the medical field is ongoing as students emulate her in their professional lives,” Moore said.
“By associating the scholarship with Columbia State Community College, we are continuing Pearl’s commitment to Columbia State, but also the community and its future.”