Gene Brantley, one of the most
learned men of the millennium, when it comes to the Brantley history and
genealogy, was killed in an auto accident on April 8, 1999. Gene had
taken his son and grandson fishing and they were returning when the
accident occurred. It took place on a county road in Baldwin County,
Georgia. According to what I understand, an opposing car operated by a
lady who had apparently dozed at the wheel crossed the center-line and
awoke as she drifted off the road edge on Gene's side. Gene was faced
with either being struck head on or broadside as she darted back.
Because he elected to swerve to his side, he took the full impact. The
boys were not hurt. Gene was not killed instantly, but knowing that his
injuries were fatal, bid his son Jeff and his young grandson farewell.
He died like he lived; always thinking of others.
I had just visited
Gene a few weeks earlier. This was the first time since he had moved.
He asked me to spend the night, but I had an appointment the next
morning back in Atlanta. We stayed up until 11:30PM talking genealogy.
ince I had came in from a different direction than I was taking home, I
ask Gene how to get back to the main road toward Atlanta. He suggested
that I just follow him a little way and he would take me to the main
highway. I told him that that wasn't necessary, he could just draw me a
little map. He insisted. I thought that this would be just a mile
or two, but it was about 10 miles later when he finally came to the
intersection of the main highway. What a guy! He thought nothing
of driving 10 miles out and 10 miles back at mid night, just to be sure
I would have no trouble.
Gene was born January 18, 1928 in Washington County, Georgia. He and his brother William T. (Tim) became involved in genealogy in 1963. For over 35 years they have been relentless in their pursuit of the genealogy and history of their forebears. Meeting with and grasping the vast research of leading researchers, William Kizziah and Ida Brooks Kellum, Gene traveled to countless Brantley sites in the US and many places in Europe. The number of courthouse and library visits is likely unsurpassed by any genealogist of his time. In addition to collecting the genealogy of his kinsman, he would always remember, somehow, ever story told about our progenitors. No one could tell the stories with more interest than Gene. Being the key speaker at the Brantley Association convention in 1990, he totally mesmerize the audience with the detailed history of our early Brantley forebears in Virginia and the study of his John & Hannah of Chatham County, N.C. from whom thousands of our present day Brantleys descend. He was truly a remarkable man. The establishment of the Brantley Association of America in 1987 was due to the inspiration of Gene and his brother Tim. It is a fact and our declaration, that anyone who ever does research on our Brantley kinsman, weather he is the first time researcher or an accomplished one of any era, shall benefit from the great labor and dedication of leading researcher, Gene Brantley.