Mary Cox Branch
May 20, 1938 – November 5, 2018
Mary Fletcher Cox Branch, of Tampa, FL, passed away on Monday, November 5, 2018, at the age of 80.
She was born in Jackson, TN, on May 20, 1938, to John Fletcher and Helen (Henderson) Cox who preceded her in death. The family settled in Morrilton, AR, where her father owned the Cox Chevrolet Co.
Mary is survived by her daughter, Ashley Tucker Branch of Tampa, a brother John Fletcher (Cecele) Cox of Layton, UT, nieces and nephews. Two sisters preceded her in death, Sally Wood Cox Buckley, and Julia Tucker Cox Bell.
A graduate of Morrilton High School, she was a member of the National Honor Society, Beta Club Honorary Society and valedictorian of her graduating class.
In 1960 she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in biology and chemistry from Lindenwood University in St. Charles, MO, with minors in math and English. While at Lindenwood she was an honor student and active in student government becoming president of the student body in her senior year.
Following graduation, she worked as a chemist in the Blood Chemistry Research Department at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis, MO. She then studied in Mumbai, India where she attended Wilson College as a microbiology graduate student on a Rotary International Foundation Scholarship. Upon returning to the United States, she furthered her microbiology studies at the University of Arkansas School of Medicine in Little Rock, AR, where she was a member of the local Chapter of Sigma Xi Scientific Research Honor Society.
She began her distinguished teaching career in 1965, at Little Rock Central High School teaching biology and chemistry. Five years later, she moved to Tampa, Florida where she continued to teach science and mathematics at St. Mary’s Episcopal School, Berkeley Preparatory School, St. John’s Episcopal Day School, and Holy Trinity Christian School until she retired in 2010.
During her career, she served as chair of the department of science and mathematics, developed science curricula and state of the art science laboratories for her students. She chaired the Tampa Science Olympics, and was honored in 2006 by being selected as a charter member of St. Mary’s Episcopal Day School Distinguished Faculty Society, an honor she cherished.
Mary’s passion for teaching was evident through 45 years of dedication to her students, the schools in which she was employed, and to her fellow faculty members with whom she enjoyed reminiscing about their time together.
Her students were special to her. She thrived on providing individual support and encouragement in her classrooms. She was the type of teacher who would encourage her students to think on their own by often answering a student’s question with a question. This carried over into her personal life as well, especially on Halloween when she enjoyed carving mathematical equations into pumpkins and challenging her trick or treaters to solve for “X.”
Described as someone who was “always creating new ways to maintain the interest of her students”, her pupils remember the field trips she took them on to identify things like male and female pine cones, collect pond samples for viewing under microscopes, and picking flowers to dissect in class. Her students will also recall her passion for using an overhead projector, never liking to turn her back to her classroom. On many occasions, she would happily display blue or green ink covered hands which were noticeable at many Tampa social events.
Deeply involved in the community, she was a member of the Tampa Museum of Science and Industry Board of Directors, Golf View Civic Association, a Tampa General Hospital volunteer, as well as, a science and mathematics tutor to many. Mary was affiliated with the National Association of Science Teachers, National Educators’ Association, and the American Association of University Women. She was a member of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church.
Mary Cox Branch will be dearly missed by her former students, fellow teachers, friends and family, and especially by her daughter with whom she shared a special bond.
Expressions of love in her memory may be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105.
A private family service will be held at a later date. Arrangements have been entrusted to Blount and Curry Funeral Home in Tampa.
Mary Cox Branch
Katie Bartley (Peifer)
November 21, 2018
I just learned of Mary’s passing. Sweet Mrs. Branch was my teacher at St. Mary’s some 25 years ago and to this day, thinking of her and that time in my life still makes me smile. I now have my own kids and live far away from Tampa but I hope and pray they will be lucky enough to have a teacher in their lives that loves their job and their students as much as Mary did. Much love to all of your family as you grieve such a profound loss.
November 11, 2018
What a very sad day to learn of Mrs. Branch's passing. My favorite teacher at Little Rock Central High. She was loved by ALL of her students. My world was made better by Mary Branch. May she rest peacefully in Heaven.
November 11, 2018
Ashley- I am so sorry to hear of your mom’s passing. I had many teachers in my life, most of whom names I don’t remember, but your mom is not one of them. She made a difference. She was caring, tough but fair and brought out the best. I have several memories I could share but too much to get into here. Just know that when I think back on my formative years and schooling, I think of your mom. Prayers to you and your family. Amy Neely