Ralph Eugene Branch

Dec 21, 1934 - Nov 5, 2015



Beloved husband of Jane McKinnon and father to Eleanor Branch, Ralph Eugene Branch passed away November 4, 2015 at the age of 80. Born December 21, 1934 in Driver, Arkansas to Ralph Anderson Branch and Lillie Mae Wells, Ralph is survived by his siblings: Ra’oouf Saleem (m. Tammy), Shirley Allen, Johnnie, Jo Willie and Wilma Branch, as well as the extended Branch family. Ralph’s father was a sharecropper and Ralph grew up picking cotton in Arkansas and Missouri until 1949 when the family bought a farm in Michigan. As a teenager, Ralph developed his strong work ethic by attending high school in Carleton during the day and working in the auto factory at night. Upon graduation, Ralph joined the US Navy, then moved to Los Angeles settling in Long Beach. In LA, Ralph pursued boxing hoping to be the “first lightweight champion of the world with a PhD”. He eventually stopped boxing after realizing his education was more important, and transferred from Santa Monica City College to UCLA to UC Berkeley, earning his B.A.. In 1974 he earned a PhD in Education from the University of California, Berkeley. He credited his membership in the Afro American Association of Oakland with exposing him to a breadth of knowledge which had previously been missing, and introducing him to life long friends focused on improving the future of African Americans. Combined with these experiences, Ralph’s travels to Europe as a youth fighting with Golden Gloves, studying at the University of Nairobi, teaching in Saudi Arabia, and entering communist China when it first opened to tourism developed his broad world view. In 1981 Ralph married Jane McKinnon and they celebrated the birth of their daughter Eleanor two years later. Ralph believed that a good education leads to better opportunities, and he dedicated his life to teaching young people in Sacramento schools. Admired for his down to earth attitude, Ralph never forgot his roots and devoted his life to his family and community. He will be missed.
Viewing: Saturday, November 14, 2015 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., East Lawn Memorial Park, 4300 Folsom Blvd., Sacramento, CA 95819. Funeral Service: Same date and location, 1:00p.m. Remembrances in Ralph’s name may be made to the Ron Brown Scholar Program, 1160 Pepsi Place Suite 206, Charlottesville, VA 22901

Funeral Home:
East Lawn Mortuary
5757 Greenback Lane
Sacramento, CA
US 95841


  • Maude & Deborah says:

    I send my deepest sympathy our entire Branch Family. Always remember the wonderful times that you spent with Ralph. Please find comfort in what the Bible says about the opportunity of seeing Ralph again under the very best of conditions right here on the earth: “He will swallow up death forever.” (Isaiah 25:8) For more comfort please go to jw.org/en/video-why-study-the-bible/ and then search for “When Someone You Love Dies” Brochure.

  • LaVerne Ross says:

    I send my heartfelt condolence to the Branch family, who I never met but, (wish I had) it was as though I knew the family for a life-time. As Ralph and I met just prior to my high school graduation in the state of California. It was the summer of 1959. This when we became special friends. The Branch family seemed even closer– with Ralph and I separately being from the Jim Crow South, Ralph and I often reminisced in retrospect about southern farm life as well as our college life on campus on the West coast in California. There will always be a place cemented in my heart for Ralph. He was truly a caring person. I do believe that I will see him again in the promised paradise.

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