Desert Vista Family Album
Happy Birthday Muriel!
After several months of
planning by Jeannette and
Sandy, we celebrated
Muriel's birthday with a
surprise party on
September 3, 2006.  
Attended by family and
friends, the party was a
complete surprise to
Muriel as she celebrated
her 60th birthday.
 
Muriel holds a
floral birthday cake
sent by friends
Lonnie and Gary
Bowling who live in
Tulsa Oklahoma.
Jeannette and Sandy sent invitations to just about everyone.
Here are some of the
wonderful gifts she
received from family
and friends.  She
especially
appreciated the many
cards and letters sent
by those to far away
to attend in person.

This is Birthday greetings and wishes for my beloved wife Muriel.

As you make the trip down the road of life, it’s time to stop for a while and celebrate a milestone
in your life.  So pull of the road and into the rest stop so your friends and family can wish you,
along with me, Happy 60th Birthday Muriel.  

Now, most of us have heard the stories of life being all downhill after we reach the terrible age
of 50.  If that’s the case, where do we go at age 60?  Do we drive off of a steep cliff or
something like that?   Well, I’m here to tell you from personal experience that is not the case.  In
fact I believe it is just the opposite.  I’m sure you will agree as friends and family gather here
with you to celebrate your birthday and wish you the best for the coming years, that this is a
truly memorable day.  The best part of this day is the realization that there will be many more
just like this one for you to experience as you continue down life’s road.

While you are resting at the roadside and enjoying this day, let’s take just a short detour down
memory lane and review some of the memorable events in the your past.   On September 3,
1946 Mr. and Mrs. James Branstetter welcomed a new daughter, Muriel Ruth, into the world.  
Muriel would later be joined in the Branstetter Family by two sisters, Jeannette and Nancy and a
brother, Jimmie.  Muriel began school in Redding California and later graduated from Shasta
Union High School.  She decided to continue her education by attending college.   She graduated
from Shasta Community College with an Associate of Arts degree.  For two years during
summer breaks, she left her home and family and traveled to Wyoming and to Yellow Stone
National Park where she spent her summers working.  These summer jobs gave her not only
work experience but the confidence to leave her home and family in Redding and Move to
Springfield, Missouri and join her sister Jeannette who had moved there earlier.

This began a new era in Muriel’s life.  She quickly found work at a company called Empire
Automotive Distributors and began her work there on June 2, 1969.  Her work ethic and abilities
completely won over her new boss, Jim Millsap.  Jim had plans for his new employee and little
did she know that she would send the next 33 years with the same company, moving from
inventory control to Purchasing agent to office manager and more.  

One year later, I began work for Jim as General Manager of the wholesale stores which at that
time were called Hermann Brownlow Companies.  Most of my time was spent at a store location
across the street from the warehouse where she worked.  Much of my work required her help
and we soon became good friends.  We had many lunches together discussing business in
general.  One of the things I enjoyed most was when our discussions turned to family and
friends.  Muriel would tell stories of her growing up as part of a family of six.  Being an only child
I was awed be her stories of growing up with two sisters and a brother.  

Then came and event that changed both of our lives.  Jim was diagnosed with terminal cancer.  
You would have had to know him personally to know how well he managed this challenge.  Being
the astute business man, he immediately began to make plans for the company after his
passing.  He sold the company to a well know automotive group, the Crow Burlingame Company
in Little Rock Arkansas, and it was also a family run business.  He made specific arrangements
with the new owners that his current employees were to be protected in their jobs for the
duration.  Jim failed fast and soon retired to his home for his last days.  As his body
deteriorated, he refused to see anyone in person.  But he kept in contact by using the phone.  I
had conversations with him at home on a regular basis for quite some time.  

It was my last conversation before Jim died that he asked me to be witness to the plans he had
made for his employees.  In this conversation, he asked me to especially watch out for and take
care of his special girl, Muriel.    I didn’t realize at the time but that conversation was a turning
point in my life.  My charge as Muriel’s protector changed my feelings from platonic to romantic
in a short period of time.  Long story short, in April 1973 Muriel and I left work among the waves
and well wishes of fellow employees and traveled to Muskogee, Oklahoma where we met Muriel’
s sister Jeannette and friend Lonnie Bowling a former co-worker of Muriel’s.  The two of them
had made all the arrangements for our wedding and we were married on April 21st.

It was several years later that Muriel gave birth to our daughter, Jennifer Anne on May 24 1979.  
Jennifer cemented the already firm relationship that we had and was a wonderful blessing for the
two of us.  Jennifer has now grown up and is married to Kevin Myers and they have presented
us with two wonderful grandchildren, Zoe and Kyle.  The Myers family has moved to Watertown,
New York where Kevin as a member of the U.S. Army and is stationed at Fort Drum.  Just this
last week, Kevin left Fort Drum and is now deployed in Afghanistan.

There have been dark days in Muriel’s life also.  The passing of her mother and later the death
of her father after lingering illnesses were low points in her trip down life’s road.  

It was in early 2001 that we received an invitation to the wedding of Jeannette’s son Brian who
was to be married to Sandy Giltner in Twin Falls, Idaho.  Muriel and I decided that this would be
a great opportunity to visit Jeannette while attending Brian’s wedding.  So we left Springfield and
traveled to Jeannette’s home in Jerome Idaho for the big event.

I was during that visit that another turning point in Muriel’s life began.  Muriel and I discussed a
future plan of leaving Springfield and moving to Idaho where she could be close to her sister.  
We talked with Jeannette and decided to start planning a move to Idaho in 2004 or early 2005.  
What followed were long conversations on the phone with Jeannette, making plans for the
move.  We completed renovation of our home in Springfield in early 2003.  Thinking that the
process of selling our home would be long and drawn out we placed it on the market.  Two days
later we had an offer and in just over a month we closed the sale.  We gathered our belongings
and with the help of Jennifer and Kevin made the move to Jerome on July 26, 2003, about a
year earlier than we planned.  So here we are.

And so here you are Muriel, at the sixty mile marker on the road of life parked at a rest stop.  
Now it’s time to carve your initials on a big tree at the side of the road to make your mark and
get back on the highway of life.  So tomorrow it will be time to begin the journey to the next mile
post.  No one really knows what lies between this one and the next, but we can all be sure of
one thing.  With the wishes and support of your friends and family we know that you will begin
that journey again with enthusiasm and hope.   So with love and gratitude in my heart may I wish
that you visit many more rest stops on your long journey?   Happy birthday to you, my wonderful
wife.

Your loving husband,

Bob    
My Gift to Muriel