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Local legend celebrates lifetime in Shepherdstown

By Staff | May 23, 2016

Anyone who has been around Shepherdstown for any length of time is likely to know town legend, Clifford Branson, who is celebrating his 83rd birthday today.

Born at home in the east end of town on Ray Street on May 20, 1933, Branson has lived or worked in Shepherdstown his whole life, apart from a brief six month stay with his sister in New Jersey.

Branson said his childhood with his mom, Nellie Washington, and his two brothers and sister was a happy one and typical for the times.

“We used to play outside all the time back then,” said Branson. “You didn’t spend much time indoors unless it was night time. We would play marbles and ball. We used to go sled riding a lot in winter. It was different back then because there wasn’t so many people in town and everybody knew each other. There’s a lot of visitors here now and so many more houses.”

He attended Eastside Elementary school in Shepherdstown, then later Paige Jackson in Charles Town for high school.

After high school, Branson worked at the Ferry Hill house for five years, then had a two year stint at Shepherd College (as it was known at that time) in the maintenance department. Most notably, however, was his nearly four decade employment as a cook at the Yellow Brick Bank restaurant until it closed on New Year’s Day 2015.

When asked about his time at the Bank, Branson replied simply, “It was a great place to work.” He does recall waiting on Nancy Reagan and columnist, George Will, and others.

Not one to be idle for any length of time, Branson is currently working at Town Run Brewing Company located on E. Washington Street.

“I don’t like to just sit and do nothing,” said Branson. “I like to be working. I like to keep busy.”

Due to hip surgery two years ago, Branson now lives with his cousin in Martinsburg, but still makes the Monday through Friday drive to Shepherdstown, and again on Sundays to attend the church he grew up in, Asbury United Methodist Church on Kearneysville Pike.

“I don’t have too many activities now,” Branson said. “I just like to work and go to church and sing in the church choir.”

Branson hasn’t let “town legend” status go to his heard, though. When asked about it he was true to his nature of being a humble man of few words, “I don’t think much about that. I just go with the flow and try to treat everybody right.”

Town Run Brewing Company is hosting a birthday party for Branson this evening at 6 p.m.; all are invited.