SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Willard (Bill) Branson, 93 of Scottsdale, AZ passed away peacefully on November 13, 2019 at Hospice of the Valley.

Bill was born on April 23, 1926 to Charles and Gertrude Branson in Stanton, NE and graduated High School there in 1943. Shortly after graduation, Bill enlisted in the Army and was deployed to Europe in 1944. Bill was assigned to the 309th Infantry Regiment known as the “Lightning Division.” He fought on the front lines and faced fierce opposition in notable battles such as the Battle of the Bulge and the Bridge at Remagen. Bill was given a field promotion to Corporal and earned many medals for his service and heroism to our country. Bill is a perfect example of the “Greatest Generation.”

After returning from WWII, Bill attended the University of Nebraska and played baseball for the Huskers. He graduated in 1950 and moved to Yankton, SD to play semi-pro baseball for the Yankton Terrys. Bill met his wife Wanda in Yankton and they were married in 1960. Bill was an avid golfer and a lifelong member of Hillcrest CC from the time it was founded in the early 1950’s until he and his wife moved west (CA/AZ) in 2014 to be closer to their daughters. He was a founding member of the Annual Hillcrest Pro-Am golf tournament and served as the Director for the Dakotas Tour for many years. He was the Senior SD State Golf Champ in 1985. He also enjoyed bowling, hunting, fishing and playing cards with friends and family.

Bill was a loving husband and amazing father and was loved dearly by his family. He was known for his killer handshake and was the happiest when he was able to “shoot his age or better” in golf (which he did 27 times) and the Huskers were having a winning season. He is survived by his wife, Wanda and 3 daughters, Lori (Gary) Chadick of Scottsdale, AZ, Kristi Solis-Branson of La Crescenta, CA, Jodi (Ryan) Flaherty of Corona, CA and grandchildren Jonathan and Jennifer Chadick.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Hospice of the Valley at or the First United Methodist Church of Yankton, SD at

Yankton Press & Dakotan

November 20, 2019