Early Years in Minco (1950-1968)
James Richard Branum was born in Chickasha, Grady County, Oklahoma, USA to James Burton Branum, Jr. and Roberta Edna Bryan (Branum) in 1950. He was the 4th of 5 children (his siblings all being sisters).
Since his father (and grandfather) both had the first name of James, he went by the name of “Butch” growing up.
Butch grew up in Minco, Oklahoma, where his parents ran Branum’s Variety Store (as well as several other entrepreneurial and public service enterprises). Throughout his growing up years he worked in his parent’s store, but also helped in a variety of other ways, including walking his father (who was in a wheelchair) to work, a few blocks from home. In high school, he was active in many student activities at his small high school, including playing football and tuba in the marching band.
College, Public Service and Marriage (1968-1975)
For first first year of college Butch (James) studied at the University of Oklahoma, where he played tuba in the marching band, but for his remaining years of college he studied at Oklahoma College of Liberal Arts (OCLA) in Chichasha, which changed its name to the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma (USAO) during this time there. He completed his Bachelors degree in business in ?year.
While a student at USAO, James began delving into public service, first by doing a special project of codifying the municipal ordinances of Minco(3) and later being chosen to serve as a very young municipal judge(4). And then in ?year, James was elected as mayor of Minco at age ?, at the time the youngest mayor in Oklahoma/USA(?)(5).
In ?year, James attended his first year of law school at the University of Oklahoma, but did not stay with the program at the time, but instead ran for Oklahoma state house as a democrat in ?year.(6) It was while he was on the campaign trail that James met Martha McCullough.
STORY OF HOW JAMES AND MARTHA MET WILL GO HERE
James lost his election by only 7 votes but all was well because he had found his true love on the campaign trail. James and Martha married on June 5, 1975 in Fort Cobb, Oklahoma.(2) They first lived in Minco but long after that (?)year, the young couple moved to Anadarko where James was hired to serve as City Manager.
Anadarko Year (1976-1978?)
DETAILS HERE ABOUT HIS TIME IN CITY ADMINISTRATION IN ANADARKO
James’ first son, James Matthew Branum was born on June 5, 1976 in Chickasha (on the couple’s first anniversary).
Then in 1978?, the young family moved to Yukon where James was hired to serve as city manager of the growing suburb of Yukon. It was in Yukon that the family had their second child, John Lawrence Branum (1979) but also had to deal with the mafia.(1)
TELL STORY OF MAFIA THREATS TO FAMILY WHILE IN YUKON AND OTHER EVENTS IN CITY GOVT.
TELL STORY OF STATE HOUSE CAMPAIGN IN YUKON (1)
Days in city government and Law school at night – Newcastle (1982-198?)
In ?year, James was hired to serve as city manager of Newcastle. While serving as city manager, James also went to night school and completed his J.D. in law in 1985 and was admitted to the bar in ?year.(1)
Newcastle became the new family’s home (James and Martha have lived in Newcastle for 35 years as of the writing of this article) and it was here that their third son, Daniel Mark Branum, was born in 1983.(1)
TELL STORY OF TIME IN NEWCASTLE CITY GOVERNMENT
Along the way, during the early 1980’s James and Martha followed his family’s tradition of entrepreneurialism, by buying his parent’s store (Branum’s Variety store) in Minco, as well as purchasing a building in downtown Newcastle which became a 3 unit building, which housed Branum’s Clothing store (in the north end), a beauty shop (rented to a tenant in the middle) and Branum’s Snack Shop (on the south end of the building). At first these business ventures did well, but then the oil bust of the mid-1980’s hit, which led to the closing all three stores and difficult financial times.(1)
The Corporate World (198?-198?)
In 1980-something?, James left the world of public administration and was hired first by the Oklahoma Association of Community Bankers and later by Sac and Fox Industries (a tribal-owned corporation). While working at SFI, James turned a two person operation into a defense contracting company that employed hundreds at three factories in Oklahoma, making chemical warfare protection suits during the first Gulf War, however, due to a variety of circumstances (mostly related to internal issues within the tribe and the tenuous nature of the business of defense contracting), the company lost its contract and James left this work at SFI.(1)
This moment was a moment of crisis for James and his family, but he did what he had learned to do from his hardworking entrepreneurial parents — work hard and never give up. And so he took the big leap of “hanging up his shingle” and beginning work as a solo practice attorney in Newcastle under the name of Branum Law Offices, using the building which once housed Branum’s stores in Newcastle.(1)
Branum Law Offices and a growing family (198?-Present?
Over the years, Branum Law Offices has served thousands of clients, at first in a variety of matters (the basic small town general practice approach), but over time he settled into a practice that focused solely on consumer and small business bankruptcy.(1)
In 1999, James and Martha grew their family some more and adopted twin boys from birth named David and Benjamin and in 2007 adopted an infant girl, Laurie.
James grew up attending the Minco Church of Christ but his involvement with church work expanded after marrying Martha. Their young family were members of the Anadarko Church of Christ, Cornwall Avenue Church of Christ (in Yukon, where James served as a deacon), and the Newcastle Heights Church of Christ (1982-present, where James has served in a variety of roles, most often as a teacher of adult Bible classes and summer camp staffer at Camp LuJo Kismif).(1)
Hobbies and Interests
Most of James’ time over the years has been consumed with work, family and church responsibilities, but he does enjoy gardening, reading, following politics and collecting Native American art, especially that of Kiowa artist Robert Redbird.(1)