Jean Maria (Kistner) Branstiter
December 16, 1935
January 3, 2024
In Loving Memory of Jean Maria Kistner Branstiter
Jean Maria Kistner Branstiter, a much-loved mother, wife, grandmother, and dedicated nurse, was born on December 16, 1935, in Meadville, Pennsylvania, to Helen Frances Chamberlain Kistner and Oakley Lycurgus Kistner. Just a few weeks after her 88th birthday, surrounded by loved ones, she peacefully slipped away to heaven on January 3, 2024, in Austin, Texas.
Growing up in Meadville alongside her siblings Joan Dorothy (Stein), Thomas Francis, and Richard Paul, Jean's early years were marked by stories of helping care for her siblings and learning the finer points of keeping a clean house.
Graduating from Spencer Hospital School of Nursing in Meadville, Jean’s score on the state licensing exam was so high, she was awarded one of the few lifetime nursing licenses in the state of Pennsylvania. Jean's first nursing position took her to Wilmington, Delaware, where she met Airman First Class Leonard Ray Branstiter, affectionately known as Len or Buntin, who was serving in the U.S. Air Force at Dover Air Force Base. They were married only a few months after meeting in 1957. The couple welcomed their first daughter, Susan, in January 1958, followed by a surprise second daughter, Donna Eileen, born in November 1958, making them Irish twins. More girls were in the future, as Nancy Ann joined the family in 1962, and another surprise with Janet Lucille in 1972. Jean liked to share stories about her daughters and often referred to them by birth order number.
The Air Force dictated the family's moves, taking them to 14 homes in: Delaware, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Ohio, Arizona, California, England, and New Mexico, before settling in Bellaire, Texas, when Buntin retired from the Air Force in 1974. Jean resumed her nursing career, at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Methodist Hospitals in Houston.
Upon full retirement, the couple relocated to Brenham, Texas where Jean's caring nature found new outlets. She became a Brazos Valley Hospice volunteer and she also developed a passion for genealogy. Her genealogy research became the foundation for the proving of several Revolutionary War patriots in her family line and eventually a proven Mayflower Descendant. After Buntin's passing, Jean sold the Brenham house and moved to Round Rock, becoming an active member of the Daniel Coleman Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Her commitment extended to attending meetings, conventions, and contributing to a significant database project preserving information from historical records of the American Revolution. Patriotism and love of country were absolute foundational values. Jean signed off all her texts with an American flag and GBA (God Bless America).
She enjoyed simple pleasures in life, such as her fondness for chocolate cake with fudge icing, mashed potatoes, and her grandmother’s recipe for raisin filled cookies. She enjoyed listening to music and resumed her childhood piano lessons in her 70s. She had a special place in her heart for dogs, and rescued two Spaniels, Olivia and Lucy, giving them a comfy place to live out their lives. Her absolute favorite simple pleasure though, was hanging out with her grandkids and great grandkids. Her absolute acceptance and love of each and every one of them left them all with beautiful memories.
Jean faced life's challenges with quiet resilience and an ever-abiding trust in God’s plan, surviving polio at age 4, the death of great-granddaughter (baby Ellie Lorraine Sanchez), Buntin’s battle with cancer and COPD, her diagnosis of stage 3 breast cancer at 86, and the daily struggles of a recovering alcoholic with twenty-nine years of sobriety. She would always say, ‘It’s going to be all right.’ And it would be.
Memorial services for Jean will be at Brenham Memorial Chapel on Saturday, January 27. Visiting with the family starting at 11am. Memorial service starts at 1pm.
Jean will be laid to rest later this spring at Arlington National Cemetery (Section 66), where she will be interred with her Buntin (SMSgt Leonard R. Branstiter). Join us in Arlington if you are able.
Please consider making a donation in Jean’s memory to Brazos Valley Hospice and English Springer Rescue America (SpringerRescue.org).
Services are in the care of Brenham Memorial Chapel, 2300 Stringer Street, Brenham, TX 77833, 979-836-3611, www.brenhammemorialchapel.com