Branch earns citizen award

Published 6:21 am Saturday, June 4, 2016

On Thursday, Bogalusa residents paid tribute to the 2015 Outstanding Citizen of the Year, Patricia Branch.

Branch, a longtime bank employee, was recognized for her cooking and for her volunteer work through her church and through the Bogalusa Help Center. Branch was voted Outstanding Citizen of the Year in May and the reception, sponsored by The Daily News, was an opportunity for the citizens who voted for Branch to sing her praises.

Those people included her pastor at ESM United Methodist Church, the Rev. Bill Moon, Branch’s co-volunteer at the Help Center, Gene Hayman and longtime friend and former Citizen of the Year, Sandy Bloom.

Moon spoke first and he praised her cooking.

“Every time we need something cooked, she’s going to be there and usually more than one thing. And it’s always good. It’s always a delight,” he said.

Hayman said he was blessed to know Branch. He first met her 15 years ago, when he returned to Bogalusa. Hayman said he first met her at church, but he’s also gotten to know her through the Help Center.

“I’ve been trying to think of one good thing I can say about Patricia,” he joked, to audience laughter, “… I’m still working on it.”

He went on to praise Branch’s willingness to dedicate each Wednesday to helping pack food at the food bank.

“I keep trying to think of one good thing to say about her,” Hayman said, wrapping up his praise. “Well, the one good thing I can say, Patricia is my friend. And that’s the most important. I love you, kid.”

Finally, Bloom spoke, and she praised her friend’s service to the community.

“I have never known her to say ‘no,’ if someone needs help,” Bloom said.

Bloom went on to praise her cooking.

“Her cooking is legendary and her delicious cooking is the cornerstone of church meals,” said Bloom.

Finally, Bloom praised Branch’s friendship and her general citizenship.

“I am so proud to call her my friend, and I think many of you are proud to say the same thing,” said Bloom. “She is the kind of citizen who is very deserving of being named the Bogalusa Citizen of the Year.”

Later in the ceremony, Daily News publisher Justin Schuver presented Branch with the Bogalusa Citizen of the Year award, and in her acceptance remarks, Branch thanked everyone.

“I want to thank everyone who voted for me for this because it’s an honor,” she said.

Branch said she first began volunteering the community as a requirement for her job at the bank after Hibernia bought out the First State Bank in Bogalusa. However, she quickly took to selfless work and she suggested others do the same.

“After you have done volunteer work, it becomes part of your life,” she said. “Everyone should try it some … There are a lot of things in this community that need to be done and it won’t get done unless we volunteer.”

Later, Bogalusa Mayor Wendy Perrette gave Branch a gift from the city and thanked Branch for her volunteering. Bridget Russell also presented her with a gift from past recipients in honor of the late Andy Overton.