Henry ‘Jay’ Branscum‚ 32 years old‚ firefighter‚ son‚ husband and father. Jay‚ Jay Henry‚ JayJay could never sit still. As soon as we settled in our home in Cairo‚ Missouri‚ in July 2011‚ he contacted the fire chief of the Northeast R-IV Volunteer Fire Department. Jay was told as soon as he attended six meetings‚ he could proceed through training. Jay went to work and arranged to be off work by 6 PM every Tuesday so that he could attend those six meetings and get to training. Once they gave him a pager‚ he kept testing it and testing it to make sure it worked. He was excited and wanted to help.
Jay never met a stranger no matter where he was‚ whether at the grocery store or a rest area along the highway. One time on the way home from his parents’ house in southeast Kansas‚ there was a couple on a motorcycle stranded. Jay insisted we pull over. We were maybe an hour away from his parents’ house‚ and it was a hot summer day. We stayed until they were able to contact a tow truck and it arrived.
Jay was a registered accredited nursing assistant and loved the work. He loved putting smiles on the faces of the people he cared for. When I met Jay‚ he had already been involved in his community in La Harpe‚ Kansas‚ as a volunteer firefighter. He wanted to help his community. Even though he worked as an assistant manager at a convenience store‚ he helped people. If you came in in a bad mood‚ he took it upon himself to put you in a better mood before you left.
Jay was the type of person that if you needed help and he could‚ he would. He lit up a room with his smile and his jokes. He loved to laugh‚ and it was infectious. Once‚ we were catfishing at a friend’s house‚ and the water was low. Jay’s bell rang‚ and the fight was on‚ or so he thought. When he got it to the bank‚ it was a 4-inch baby catfish that had gone through brush. He was a wonderful sport and even posed for pictures with his ‘killer’ catfish.
Jay will be missed by many. He will always be with us. Jay is MY hero! Rest in peace and thank you‚ Henry ‘Jay’ Branscum.