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Constance "Connie" Branigan

June 29, 1923 – June 4, 2019

Constance Branigan Constance Branigan Constance Branigan Constance Branigan Constance Branigan Constance Branigan Constance Branigan Constance Branigan Constance Branigan Constance Branigan Constance Branigan Constance Branigan Constance Branigan Constance Branigan Constance Branigan Constance Branigan Constance Branigan Constance Branigan Constance Branigan Constance Branigan Constance Branigan Constance Branigan Constance Branigan Constance Branigan Constance Branigan
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Memorial Candles Lit for Constance "Connie" Branigan | SEE ALL
"We are honored to provide this Book of Memories to the family."
— Mueller Memorial -White Bear Lake
"With God's blessings and ourheartfelt sympathies on the occasion of dearest Connie's passing to eternal life-- "
— Mary Joy and Mike Peroz

Obituary for Constance "Connie" Branigan

Branigan, Constance Patricia Cronin
June 29, 1923 - June 4, 2019

Connie Branigan (nee Cronin) died on June 4, 2019 at St Andrews Village Senior Residence in Mahtomedi, Minnesota.

Connie was born June 29, 1923 in Hibbing, MN, to Edward J. and Florence (nee Weiser) Cronin. She grew up with a talent for academics, but also for following and playing sports. Many Saturday afternoons were spent listening to Gopher football on the radio with her father. At 16, she was also the Hibbing women’s tennis champion. She was an honor graduate of Hibbing High School and Hibbing Junior College.

In 1943, Connie turned down a full scholarship to the University of Chicago to take a position at the Hibbing Daily tribune as society editor. As male staff were being drafted, she saw it as her contribution to the war effort as she progressed on to serve as one of the first woman sports editors of a Minnesota daily from 1943 - 1944. Later, as an editor, she worked on the pages related to the invasion of Normandy.

During the War, Connie met Howard Branigan, Norwegian-Irish Army Airforce pilot- in-training at the Hibbing Airport/Junior College. As a part time instructor at the college, Connie was intrigued when she read his Irish last name on a list of trainees and she made it a point to meet him. They began dating and Howard was smitten from the beginning. In 1944, Connie became a war bride, leaving Hibbing, her work at the Hibbing Daily Tribune and her teaching of business classes at the junior college. They soon married at the Mount Home Idaho Army Air Force Base.

Alongside their marriage, Connie’s and Howard’s proudest accomplishment was raising their 4 sons and daughter. After the war, they settled in Alida, Minnesota, North of Itasca State Park. Howard worked with his father, Harry, on the Bear Creek Evergreen Nurseries. Besides giving birth to Bruce, Gary Michael and Patrick, Connie worked hard growing large vegetable gardens in the summer and canning in the fall. Eventually, they moved to Bagley, where Howard worked for the electrical cooperative. Son Terry was born, and in 1955, the family moved to the Iron Range, where Howard took a job with the Northern Electrical Cooperative. By 1957, they lived in Virginia and daughter Beth was born.

In raising their family, Howard and Connie emphasized faith, academics, sports participation, community involvement and leadership. All five children became college graduates with two completing post graduate work. The four boys were all Eagle Scouts. Connie was proud of the work that each of them have done, some of which include Christian publishing, environmental protection law, vocational and social services, railroad division management, technology, voluntary military service, advocacy for civil/voting rights and for Vietnam Veterans.

In the early 1970s Howard and Connie started an ecumenical prayer group that met in their home. In the years to come, they participated in prayer groups, bible studies and served both the community and their individual churches. At that time, Connie also completed her own degree in primary education with a focus on special education. It was an easy choice as raising her own family engendered a lifelong love of working with children.

Connie was a 45-year resident of Virginia, Minnesota and taught in the Title I program at Midway and Marquette schools, and then served as Special Education and Title I Coordinator for the Virginia Schools. She received a certificate of commendation from Gov. Rudy Perpich for her outstanding contribution to Minnesota youth through her special education work.

Her community leadership and involvement were key parts of her years in Virginia. She was active in Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts, in the school PTA, FISH (a community service organization) and served as vice President of the East Range Red Cross Board. She edited the Virginia Views newsletter for the School District and served on the school district Planning and Evaluation committee for 12 years. She was active in the Virginia Study Club and was a charter member of the Range Respite Caregivers Club.

Connie was a supporter of public education as a way to ensure that everyone had access to learning, to develop to the full extent of their potential. This included her own children, even though that it meant leaving Virginia to pursue their dreams. She was also a strong supporter of the teacher’s union working in the classroom, as an administration coordinator and as a retired teacher. Connie was a member of the MEA, NEA and Retired Educators. In her retirement, she generously volunteered at both the public and Catholic schools in Virginia.

Howard began to have significant health problems in the late 70s and passed away suddenly and prematurely in 1982 as a result of cancer. Providentially, this profound loss for Connie coincided with the birth of her first grandchild, John. In the next several years, her life would be blessed with more grandchildren: Ned, Kevin, Emily, Tim, Margot, Claire and Sarah.

Connie delighted in sharing holidays, vacations, endless encouragement, generous birthday and Christmas gifts, and stories with her large family. She decorated her home extensively with seasonal decorations that brought joy to everyone. She also made or sponsored Halloween costumes every year for each child. She completed years of manual, pre-internet research on family genealogy, and she presented each family with an intricate handmade book of genealogy, which is one of her most enduring legacies. She and her sister, Florence, sponsored large family reunions for the entire family for nearly 20 years at Itasca State Park, where Howard had been born many years before. This, along with trips to the family’s rustic cabin on Coe Lake, 20 miles south of Virginia, fostered a special love for the environment, and of course, family history. Special traditions included Connie’s famous hotdish and Iron Range pasties.

Connie’s faith was central to her full and generous life. She was an active member of the Virginia Holy Spirit Catholic Church community. She served on the parish council during the time when a new church was being built, taught religious education, was active in the Holy Spirit guilds and attended daily mass once she had retired. Moving to Mahtomedi, Minnesota, in 2002, she became a member of St Jude of the Lake and attended Mass as long as she was able. She was a Benedictine Oblate of St. Scholastica Monastery. Connie consistently worked to provide a legacy to her family and community of Christian values learned, honored and lived.

In 2002, Connie moved to St Andrew’s Village Independent living in Mahtomedi, Minnesota, to be closer to family. For years, she was very active in the social life there, including current affairs discussion groups, bridge, participating as a resident representative to provide feedback to St Andrews Administration staff, Catholic rosary and prayer services and coffee with friends. She was especially delighted to attend her grandchildren’s sporting, dance and drama events.

She was highly interested in staying current on what was happening in her community, the nation, and in the world. She subscribed to multiple newspapers and followed multiple media sources. She always voted and felt that an informed electorate was essential to our democracy. Connie was passionate about the rights of all people and involvement in the political life of their community, state and country, including the presidency.

Connie delighted in good conversation, always with humor and the wisdom and historical perspective brought about by age. Goodbyes were always lengthy, as in Connie’s own words, “There is a lot more to cover”.

Bravo, Connie, on a life well-lived, a life of faith, family, hard work, community commitment and professionalism. You left a wonderful legacy and the world is better for it!

Connie was preceded in death by her husband Howard Branigan, parents Edward and Florence Cronin and Sisters Florence Cronin and Julia Cronin. She is survived by children Bruce (Barbara Posch-Branigan), Michael, Patrick (Patrice Schober-Branigan), Terrence, and Elizabeth (Patrick McNamara). Grandchildren: John McNamara (Katia), Kevin McNamara (Vanessa), Ned Branigan, Emily Tobin (Sean), Timothy Branigan, Margot Branigan, Claire Branigan (Steve Sherman), and Sarah Branigan. Great-grandchildren: Jayce, Ryken, Liam, Kate, and Corbin. Visitation Tues, June 11th, at 10:00 a.m. at St. Jude’s of the Lake, Mahtomedi, MN. Mass for Christian Burial to follow at 11:00 a.m. Memorials are preferred and will be directed to the Benedictines of St. Scholastica and St. Andrew’s Village.

First Visitation

When Tuesday, June 11th, 2019 10:00am - 11:00am
St. Jude of the Lake Catholic Church
700 Mahtomedi Avenue
Mahtomedi, MN 55115-1698
Additional Information

Mass of Christian Burial Information

Tuesday, June 11th, 2019 11:00am
St. Jude of the Lake Catholic Church
700 Mahtomedi Avenue
Mahtomedi, MN 55115-1698

Interment Information

Wednesday, June 12th, 2019
Calvary Cemetery Virginia
Address Not Available
Virginia, Minnesota