Margene Branch Gerfen

Published 10:21 pm Thursday, March 7, 2013

Margene Branch Gerfen passed away early on Feb. 20 in Palo Alto, Calif.

She is survived by her four sons — Thomas (Pamela) of San Francisco, Charles (Sarah) of Bethesda, MD, Earl (Anne) of Palo Alto, Christopher (Jennifer) of Lexington, Mass. – and 10 grandchildren, to whom she was a loving grandmother and MeMe.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Dr. Charles O. Gerfen, and her parents, Thomas W. and Elzora R. Branch.

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Born Margaret Eugenia Branch in Atlanta in 1928, “Margene” was known to all around her for her bright spirit, loving heart and contagious smile. As a child in Atlanta, she was an active member of Second Ponce de Leon Baptist Church and graduated from Washington Seminary. In 1939, she was part of a harp ensemble that performed in the East Room of the White House for Mrs. Roosevelt.

While attending Stephens College in Columbia, MO, she met the love of her life, Charles Gerfen. The two married in 1948, and settled in St. Louis, where she raised her beloved sons and was a long-time member of Ladue Chapel, Old Warson Country Club and several garden, bridge and book clubs.

Second only to her love of family and friends, was her love of flowers. She was an avid supporter of the Missouri Botanical Garden and the Naples Botanical Garden in Naples, Fla., where she split her time later in life before moving to Palo Alto to be closer to family.

A majority shareholder in Lake Lanier Investment and Development Corporation since her father purchased the property in 1963, and the chairman since 1999, Margene enjoyed travelling with her husband Charles (Chuck) to see the fall colors on her many visits to Tryon.

She took many tours around the lake and property over the years with the legendary Frank Williams, who fondly referred to her as “Miss Margene.” She always looked forward to her visits with local residents such as Joyce and Jerry Atkins. Her sweet and gracious presence will be missed by all who knew her.

Margene was interred Saturday, March 2, at Westview Cemetery in Atlanta, next to her husband and parents. The family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Naples Botanical Garden in Margene’s memory.