‘Uncle Jerold’ Brantley dies at 101 years old

Published 11:00 pm Friday, August 31, 2012

When God made Jerold Brantley of the Banks community, He threw away the mold. There will never be another like him.

Jerold Brantley, 101, died Friday morning in the presence of his grandson. Brantley was known to many family members at “Uncle Jerold”

Brantley died at 8:17 Friday morning, Aug. 31. He was 101 years old. His grandson, Mark Brantley was with him.

“‘Uncle Jerold’ was the greatest influence in my life,” Brantley said. “His work ethic, his kindness. He was a man’s man. He was well respected in the community. He had a good set of morals and he passed all of that on to his family and beyond.

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“And, let it be said that ‘Uncle Jerold’ was a hard man but a fair man. He was very opinionated and sometimes that wasn’t pleasant.”

Brantley laughingly said that it was best to agree with his granddad.

“If something was white and he said it was black, it was best to go along with him,” he said. “‘Uncle Jerold’ was about 70 years old before he began to accept that he didn’t have to be right about everything.”

Brantley was a Pike County man from beginning to end. He tried several professions before he settled in where he ought to be.

“He was a game warden, a forester and owned a store in Banks,” his grandson said. “Then, he went off to the military and came home to farm for the rest of his working life.”

Brantley has many fond memories of his granddad and enough stories to fill a book.

“When I was a little boy, every Sunday, winter or summer, ‘Uncle Jerold’ would ride the countryside in his old pickup truck. Any of us kids that wanted to ride could catch on. We’d stop at one of the country stores and Uncle Jerold would give each of us one of those little brown paper bags and we could get all the candy and cookies that we could fit in it and he’d buy us a drink to go with it.”

Before or after the stops at the store, “Uncle Jerold” would take off for the Hop Joint, a wide pasture with high terraces.

“‘Uncle Jerold’ would jump the terraces so fast that we’d be picked up and set down in the back of the truck,” Brantley said. “The faster he drove, the higher we got picked up and the harder we got set down. He made Sunday afternoons fun and special for all of us. We all benefited from being with him.”

Cathi Steed, one of Jerold’s nieces, also has fond memories of “Uncle Jerold.”

“He was the baby boy of the family and his mama favored him,” Steed said. “Uncle Jerold was a bit stubborn and sometimes he seemed a little harsh but he always told the truth whether you wanted to hear it or not. Uncle Jerold loved his family. He was faithful to his family, his friends and his community. He looked out for everybody.”

Like everyone who knew him, Steed has a favorite Jerold Brantley story.

“Uncle Jerold and his sister, Aunt Willie T., were going to Texas to visit their sister Aunt Mag,” she said. “Brantley (Crawley) told Uncle Jerold to take his car, that his mother, Aunt Willie T., would be more comfortable in it.”

Along the way, Brantley was paying more attention to the crops than he was to the road.

“He would run off in the ditches and it didn’t matter to him,” Steed said. “He pulled off the road and went out in a pasture to talk to a farmer. When he got back in the car, he took off with the car door open and ripped it off on a fence post. He got out and took haywire off the fence and tied the door back on. For the rest on the trip, Aunt Willie T. had to crawl in on the driver’s side. So much for her comfort.”

When they returned from the trip, Brantley got out of the car and back in his truck and never mentioned to Crawley that he had knocked off his car door.

Another Jerold Brantley story that the family likes to share is the time he borrowed a tractor from James Smith.

“James wouldn’t take any money from Uncle Jerold so he told James that he would give him an old hog he could take to the market,” Steed said. “James never went and got the hog even though Uncle Jerold kept asking him to. One day James got a big check in the mail from the stockyard. He asked ‘Uncle Jerold’ if he knew anything about it. Uncle Jerold said, ‘Well, you wouldn’t come get the old hog, so I just sold it for you.’”

Everybody who knew Jerold Brantley knew how much he enjoyed talking about politics and world affairs.

“Uncle Jerold read a lot and his favorite magazine was US News and World Report,” Steed said. “He got to the point that he couldn’t see to read so Aunt Carolyn read the paper to him and, once a week, a college student went and read his magazines to him. He was always interested in what was going on around him and in the people he cared about.”

Mark Brantley said that his granddad was compassionate, caring and loving.

“What I’ll remember most about him was his kindness and the importance that he put on relationships,” he said.

“It was not the worldly things that ‘Uncle Jerold’ put value in. It was the people and the relationships with him. He was one of a kind. There will never be another ‘Uncle Jerold.’”