Dec. 3, 2012, ended Alston Branscomb’s life with the Trinity on earth and began his life with them in Heaven, through the resurrected Jesus. From his infancy, Feb. 4, l917, he served, praised and was blessed by God with many miracles, healings and the retention of his sense of wonderment. He attributed all his accomplishments to his being indwelt by the Spirit of God.
Church: First United Methodist Church of Sheffield, teacher, lay speaker, chairman of the Board of Stewards; First chairman Board of Directors of Wesley Foundation at UNA.
Civic: Sheffield Kiwanis Club, member 1947 until death; President; Board of Directors; many times representative to national conferences; 43 years of perfect attendance; Kiwanis International Legion of Honor Award 1978, 1988 and 1997; George F. Hixson Fellowship 2000; Kiwanian of the Year 2003; plaque in park erected “In honor of James Alston Branscomb, a true and faithful member, given by Sheffield Kiwanis Club” 2010,
Wilson Dam Section of the American Chemical Society: President, Councilor, national recognition of 50 years of membership, awarded Outstanding Member, 1981-1982
United Way: member since 1941, Chairman for Colbert County
Boy Scouts of America: one-time Area Commissioner for Tennessee Valley Council; received Certificate of Appreciation for Outstanding Service to the Youth of the Shoals Area by Greater Alabama Council, May 2, 2002,
Associated Charities of Sheffield: president twice
Muscle Shoals Literacy League: Board of Directors
Muscle Shoals Coin Club: secretary
RADEF Officer for Colbert County.
Honors and Recognitions: Alston was Valedictorian of Bullock County High School, Midway, Ala., baritone player of the school orchestra, captain of the basketball team and high school tennis champion. He won the Scholastic National High School Tennis plaque, first prize in the State U.D.C. contest one year and second prize another year, and a National Art Contest prize.
University of Alabama (l935-40): Bachelor degree; Masters degree in Chemistry, Metallurgy and Ceramics; Gamma Sigma Epsilon (equivalent to Phi Beta Kappa); Chi Beta Phi; Omicron Delta Kappa; Pi Tau Chi (charter member of first student chapter in country); Alabama Quadrangle; Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities; the 11th edition of American Men of Science; editor of “A Book”; President of YMCA, representing all colleges in Alabama for two years; represented School of Chemistry on Student Honor Court; and Student Spirit Committee. During these summers he served as Big Chief to a cabin of boys at YMCA Camp Cosby, Pinson, Ala. After Wesley Foundation was established by Dr. W. G. Echols, members chose Alston as their first president.
Professional: Hollingsworth and Whitney Co., Chemist, Mobile, Ala, 1941; Reynolds Metals Co., Listerhill, Ala., Senior Chemist, Chief Spectrographer, and Chief Chemist of Listerhill Reduction Plant, 1941 until Nov. 4, 1954; promoted to help start the Reduction Research Division and be Leader of the Carbon, Analytical and the Chemical Engineering section; Liaison Representative between RRD and RMC’s seven reduction plants in the United States and the one in Canada, Oslo, Norway, and Paris, France. He represented RMC in the American Chemical Society and American Society for Testing Materials. Alston was the author of “Carbon Electrode Pitches,” Vol. III Bituminous Materials (1966). He retired Feb. 4, 1982, after 41 years employment with Reynolds.
Personal: During WWII he was a member of Temporary Reserve. At first as Coxswain and then as Seaman First Class, he worked eight hours for Reduction Research and then went on duty at night in the Coast Guard.
He wrote Midway Memories (1997), God-Given Branscomb Miracles (2000), John Sanford Branscomb and His Family (2003), and Come Laugh with Me [softback ISBN: 978-1-4628-8658-6 and hardcover ISBM: 978-4628-8659-3] (2011).
Alston’s children and their families surprised him with a commissioned painting of Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane in the Chapel and with prayer-related books in the library of the Sheffield United Methodist Church. The plaque states: “The painting of Jesus praying, and the books in the Prayer Library, are given to the glory of God and in honor of James Alston Branscomb. ‘Don’t worry about anything, but in all your prayers ask God for what you need, always asking him with a thankful heart.’ Philippians 4:6.” His children selected this scripture as being most descriptive of his life.
He was preceded in death by his grandfather, James Merriman Alston; and grandmother, Eugenia Turman Alston (Marmee); his father, John Sanford and mother, Eugenia Norwood Alston (Genie Mae); half-brothers and sisters, but always considered as brothers and sisters, Joseph Earle, Jessye (or Jessie), Forest Gwynn, Frederick Crisp, Mary Hunter Smith, Marvin Bennett, Albert Leon, Clayton Sanford, John Warren, Lucille Elizabeth, Ernest Jackson and Lewis Lightfoot; maternal aunts, Mattie Urline and Annie Alma Alston; and by his beautiful, inside and out, wife of 51 years, Blanche Stinson Price, for whom he always credited and thanked God for picking her out for him. Alston designed a stained glass window in the Sheffield United Methodist Church as a memorial for Blanche. It depicts Jesus standing in a flowerbed offering the viewer a hug. Underneath was inscribed: “Following Jesus, she also went about doing good.” Acts 10:38.
He is survived by their daughter, Eugenia; son-in-law, David Hobday; and their son and daughter-in-law, Hylton and Lisa, and their sons, Cameron and Jackson; their daughter, Penny; son-in-law, Steve Leggett; their son, Lewis Alston, and daughter-in-law, Marie; and their family, David John, Peter Alston and Kim and their daughters, Kristen and Karlie; Mary Patton, Elizabeth, and Rebekah; and their son, David, and daughter-in-law, Natalie; and their son, Daniel, and daughter, Virginia.
It is Alston’s prayer that each survivor strives to live according to God’s expectation of them. The family wishes to express their deepest thanks to everyone who helped Alston realize his accomplishments and loved him.
Visitation is from 6-8, Thursday evening, Morrison Funeral Home, Tuscumbia, Ala. The celebration of his life is at noon Friday. Sheffield United Methodist Church, 701 N. Montgomery Ave.