Thomas M. Braniff
August 22, 1945 – February 12, 2021
Thomas Matthew Braniff passed away peacefully at his home in Houston, Texas on the 12th of February 2021, at the age of 75. He was born on the 22nd of August 1945, in Houston, Texas to Tenie Roberta Braniff and James J. Braniff, Jr., who founded James J. Braniff & Company in 1938. He attended grade school at St. Vincent de Paul and high school at St. Thomas High School, graduating in 1963.
While in high school, Tom began working for the Houston Colt 45s, an expansion team in American major league baseball’s National League, owned by Houston legend and former mayor Roy Hofheinz, whose dream to bring major league baseball to Houston and build the world’s first multi-purpose domed sports stadium was realized when the Colt 45s morphed into the Astros in 1965 for the grand opening of the Astrodome. Tom had many interesting experiences that included tours of Hofheinz’s lavish private five-story home within the Dome, taking visitors on tours of the stadium and to viewings of the classic movie “How the West was Won,” starring Jimmy Stewart, Debbie Reynolds and Gregory Peck, and developing a close personal and lifelong friendship with exiled Cuban baseball Spanish broadcaster Orlando Sanchez Diago.
He attended St. Mary’s University in San Antonio earning an undergraduate and a law degree and acquired an enduring affection for the city and its Spanish culture while developing several lifetime friendships. During his undergraduate years, he worked summers in the family independent insurance agency, where he joined brothers, James J. Braniff, III and John R. Braniff, brokering property and casualty insurance at a time when Houston’s commercial real estate market was rapidly expanding and their customers included restaurants, commercial real estate, and condominiums. The agency also innovated arena insurance, providing coverages for the Astrodome, the Summit, Compaq Center and other sporting arenas, many of which later became performance venues where he and friends enjoyed music concerts.
Upon graduation from law school, Tom joined his family as a shareholder in the agency where they worked together in Houston’s fast and furious learning curve to build the agency into one of Houston’s finest, brokering insurance covering an expanding array of risks. Ever a student of insurance and advocate of professionalism in his field, Tom earned the Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter professional designation, the industry’s most esteemed credential in property/casualty insurance, and was invited to join the Houston chapter of the Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters Society. He also authored a weekly insurance column for the Houston Chronicle, as its youngest contributor.
By the mid-1980s, the agency, rebranded Braniff + Braniff, had quadrupled its size and revenues, and was subsequently merged with Arthur J. Gallagher & Company, a global insurance brokerage, at which time Tom left the agency/brokerage business to found Texas Insurance Consulting, providing legal representation to agencies in a wide array of services, including expert witness testimony, merger and acquisition brokerage, agency consulting services and legal services.
He met his wife, Wendall Corrigan, a law student and Legislative Aide to the Harris County Delegation of the Texas Legislature, while advocating legislation to improve service and accountability within the Texas insurance industry at the state capitol in Austin. Tom and Wendy embarked upon a romance, marriage and partnership based upon mutual personal values and a commitment to insurance education that endured throughout his lifetime.
Over time, he separated the expert witness and litigation business of Texas Insurance Consulting into a partnership with attorney, expert witness and friend Robert P. Gaddis, creating Insurance Forensics. Tom’s son, attorney and insurance agent Rhett Braniff, also partnered with his father on several cases for both entities, and with wife Wendy Braniff and son-in-law Steven Charnquist, they formed Braniff Attorneys – Counselors, a law firm offering legal services within the areas of expertise of its family of attorneys including insurance, real estate, water and administrative law and consulting services.
Tom’s inquisitive and focused mind drove him to become an education advocate, seeking to provide access to education, mentorship and professional career development on various levels. Together with his St. Thomas graduating class brothers he established a scholarship for which they raised funds and he served as the liaison between the Class of ’63 members and their STHS scholarship recipients.
Tom became a member of the Independent Insurance Agents of Texas (IIAT), playing an instrumental role in the creation of its legislative committee and involved in its political action committee, IMPACT, in Houston. For this and numerous other contributions to the state association, he earned the organization’s coveted Paige Iland Political Action Award for political involvement benefitting independent insurance agents. He also taught conference seminars, developed sample contracts used by agents, and provided guidance and legal expertise to its leadership’s decision making. Tom, in association with IIAT chapters throughout Texas, formed a partnership with Wortham Insurance Agency and the Joseph Blades family to fund and spearhead the establishment of an insurance and risk management undergraduate program at the University of Texas at Austin.
Tom was also actively involved in the leadership of the local Independent Insurance Agents of Houston (IIAH), a chapter of the state association, serving on the board of directors, numerous committees, authoring an insurance law article for its monthly publication and elected to a term as its president. In a concerted effort with IIAH members and other Houston insurance professionals, Tom created an undergraduate degree program at the University of Houston-Downtown to develop new industry talent and with the ultimate goal of mentoring those young professionals into leadership roles within the Houston property/casualty insurance industry. They recruited Tom’s wife, Wendy, to serve as director of the program and along with an Advisory Council comprised of Houston’s insurance leadership, developed a property/casualty curriculum uniquely designed to simultaneously provide graduates with academic as well as professional insurance credentials. Tom was a faculty member who taught insurance classes in the UH-D program and at Houston Community College. Through his and the efforts, mentoring and support of its Council members, its students and graduates succeeded into insurance careers throughout Houston and Texas.
In order to recruit and support students, Tom and Houston insurance colleagues Tim Brady, Matt Sasso and Kyle Dean created the Texas Insurance Education Foundation (TIEF) to raise and distribute scholarships and other supporting funds to the UH-D program and its students. Tom and Wendy also became avid supporters of the Insurance Council of Texas’s Education Foundation which directs member contributions to university insurance programs throughout Texas and promotes the careers of their students and graduates in the property/casualty insurance industry.
Tom’s membership in the American Association of Insurance Management Consultants (AAIMCo), an exclusive and elite cadre of insurance experts who provide consulting and expert witness services to the insurance industry throughout the United States, led to his service as the association’s president for seven terms, and recognition within the organization as “Mr. AAIMCo.”
The Braniffs served together on various insurance industry committees, attended Texas insurance association meetings and conferences and enjoyed traveling throughout the United States for conferences with their AAIMCo colleagues and friends. Their dynamic partnership extended beyond their shared professional lives to their mutual personal interests in exploring their Celtic orgins, politics, music, golf, family and especially their six grandchildren. Tom’s weekly highlight was dinner enjoyed with their Houston grandchildren. He was exceptionally pleased when Finnian enrolled in his beloved alma mater, St. Thomas High School, and proud to learn of Sayer’s acceptance to University of Houston this fall. They were also active in their local communities of Cambridge Green in Houston and Onion Creek in Austin and were avid golfers, with memberships at BraeBurn Country Club in Houston and Onion Creek Club in Austin where they also shared a second home. They enjoyed golfing with friends throughout the United States and in Ireland from Pebble Beach to Ballybunion. Tom and Wendy were members of St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church for several decades. He was a blues aficionado who accumulated an extensive music collection and created personal compilations of his favorite artists’ work which he generously shared with family and friends.
Tom was an American and Texas patriot, dedicated and loyal husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, cousin and friend. He is survived by his wife, Wendall (Wendy) Corrigan Braniff, siblings James J. Braniff III, John R. Braniff, Tenie Braniff, and Sister Ginny Braniff, daughter Farrah Braniff, son-in-law Steven Charnquist and their children Sayer, Finnian and Einin and son Rhett Braniff and wife Emily and their children Loudon, Gibson and Jolene, 10 nephews and nieces and their spouses and 29 children and 41 cousins and their spouses, children and extended family members. He is predeceased by his brother Daniel P. Braniff.
Friends are cordially invited to a visitation from five o’clock in the afternoon to seven o’clock in the evening on Wednesday, the 24th of February 2021, in the Jasek Chapel of Geo. H. Lewis & Sons, 1010 Bering Drive in Houston.
A Memorial Mass will be celebrated at ten o’clock in the morning on Saturday the 27th of February 2021, at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church 6800 Buffalo Speedway in Houston, where Mr. Braniff’s cousin, The Most Reverend Wm. Michael Mulvey, STL, DD, Bishop of Corpus Christi will serve as celebrant.
For those unable to attend the Memorial Mass in-person, virtual attendance will be available via live stream and may be accessed by selecting the “Join Livestream” icon below.
His final resting place will be at Forest Park Lawndale Cemetery in Houston, Texas.
In lieu of flowers and other customary remembrances, the family requests that memorial gifts in Tom’s name be made to Texas Insurance Education Foundation, 8980 Lakes at 610 Drive, Suite 100, Houston, Texas 77054.
Texas Insurance Education Foundation
8980 Lakes at 610 Drive Suite 100 , Houston, Texas 77054
Wednesday, February 24, 2021
Saturday, February 27, 2021
Thomas M. Braniff
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February 27, 2021
So sorry to hear of Tom’s passing. What a great guy. I used to love going dove hunting with him and the guys in Beeville every year. Tom was always on the cutting edge of music and he introduced me to Lyle Lovett in his early years and then Greg Brown, both who I still listen to frequently to this day. He was a great man and left an example for all to follow. God bless.
Bob and Judy Larsen
February 27, 2021
We were deeply saddened to hear of Tom’s untimely passing. It was our great pleasure to have known him and enjoyed his company. Tom stood tall among us—I was always greatly impressed with his wisdom, demeanor and ability to provide sage counsel in times of need. His and Wendy’s help in my election endeavors will always be remembered. He was a good friend that will never be forgotten. Our prayers are with you .
Judy and Bob
February 25, 2021
In 2004 I contacted Tom for advise and even though he was playing golf at that time, he went to the clubhouse, had me fax him my need in writing and within an hour got back to me with an advise that saved me from going into a bad partnership agreement. It was a low period of my life but this guidance helped me move on -on my own and build a successful agency that i was able to sell a decade later.
Rest In Peace Tom. May God give his family and friends the strength to bear this great & irreplaceable loss-Amen!
February 23, 2021
Dear Wendy and family,
We were saddened to hear of Tom’s passing. Tom was truly a very remarkable guy. I first had the honor of meeting Tom 38 years ago and got to know him as a man of great honor, integrity and faith. Our condolences and prayers are with you all during this difficult time.
February 23, 2021
My deepest condolences to the entire Braniff Family. I worked for Tom when beginning my career with the Braniff's. I learned so much from him. He was so professional and a perfectionist.
My prayers are with the family.
February 23, 2021
Both Wayne & I send our heartfelt condolences at learning of your loss of your most beloved husband. We will keep you in our thoughts & prayers at this most devastating loss of life.
February 22, 2021
Dear Wendy and Family,
We were extremely saddened to learn of Tom's passing. Tom was one of the finest men I've ever known and will be missed by many.
We pray that the Peace of God help comfort you and your family as you mourn your loss.
With our deepest condolences,
Ed Gasparini and family
February 22, 2021
Sorry to hear the sad news of Tom's passing. Prayers for Wendy and family.
RIP my friend
February 21, 2021
Dear John and family.
I am so sorry to hear of your loss. Thinking of you and praying for comfort for the family.
Judy Pence Jordan
February 21, 2021
Tomas was an industry giant, a mentor to many, a respected resource to all who knew and worked with him. His contribution to the Independent Agency system and to IIAT will live on. Tom Braniff was my friend and he will be greatly missed. LL
February 21, 2021
Tommy was a remarkable young man who continued his success throughout his life time. I remember many wonderful times in Cuero and Houston. He was always a gentleman who enjoyed life to the fullest. I remember the Astro games and fun times comparing the antics of our brothers. I am so very sorry for your loss. Our families have shared many good times together. God bless you all and help you through this most difficult time.