Charles Herbert Bracken, 90, died on Friday, August 12, 2011, at Spring Hill Senior Living Community, Erie, from the accumulated effects of an extraordinary life.
He was born in Corry, Pa., June 5, 1921, the middle son of Olin Williams Bracken and his wife, Vellah. Throughout his Corry school years, he excelled in the classroom, on the playing field and was voted “most active, most popular and having the best disposition,” attributes that lasted his lifetime.
Charles, known to his friends as Bud, spent his college years at the University of Pennsylvania, interrupted by four years of serving in the U.S. Air Force with distinction as first lieutenant. After the war, he returned to school, earning his degree from the Wharton School in 1948. The same year was the start of a long and wondrous marriage to Barbara Eleanor Barton, of Philadelphia, Pa.
Bud and Barb returned to Corry, where Bud began his long and distinguished banking career. Starting with the Citizens National Bank, his financial expertise and visionary leadership resulted in the bank becoming an innovative model for the banking industry. In 1964, the Marine National Bank of Erie was looking for a worthy successor to the retiring president and found it in Bud. Under his stewardship, the bank achieved tremendous growth and stature. The banking industry recognized his innovative leadership by electing him president of the Pennsylvania Bankers Association in 1966. Gov. Raymond Shafer called upon Bud to join him in the first Pennsylvania Trade Mission to Europe. Bud ended his career as the vice chairman of the PNC Financial Corp.
Most notable was Bud’s warmth, forthright honesty, justice and graciousness with all the bank’s customers and all employees. He greeted everyone by name and with respect. He encouraged diversity when it was not readily accepted.
Bud had a tremendous impact on his community through his immeasurable good deeds through board leaderships and generous donations. These organizations included the Erie Community Foundation, Hamot, Mercyhurst College, Cathedral of St. Paul, Shriners Hospitals for Children, Saint Vincent Health Center, Erie United Way, ACES and Lake Erie Newcomen Society.
Bud’s ethical and professional principles are highlighted by his 1995 Integrity Award, multiple Outstanding Citizen awards and in his honor, the Charles H. Bracken Excellence in Nonprofit Governance Award.
Bud’s greatest accomplishment was his family. Paralleling a growing career was a growing family with five children arriving between the years of 1951 and 1957. They were his pride and joy and he delighted in all things family related. Family gatherings, ski outings and annual trips to the New Jersey shore were highlights for all. These trips evolved to include 15 grandchildren and recently a great-granddaughter. They thought their grandfather was and always will be the best. He is leaving a very close-knit and happy family.
He is survived by his wife, Barbara Barton Bracken; two daughters, Betsy Bracken Barrett and her husband, Dan, of Portland, Maine, and Sally Bracken Gearity and her husband, Kevin, of Fairview, Pa.; three sons, Charles H. Bracken Jr. and his wife, Melinda, of Pittsburgh, Pa., Barton William Bracken and his wife, Rebecca Bryan, of West Hartford, Conn., and Douglas Morgan Bracken and his wife, Nina, of Fairview, Pa.; 15 grandchildren, Zachary Barrett and his wife, Jessica, Heather Bracken, Colin Gearity, Kelsey Barrett, Justin Bracken, Evan Gearity, Kirsten Scott and her, husband, Matthew, Morgan Bracken, Kyle Gearity, Myles Bracken, Carlyn Bracken, Kelli Bracken, Jake Barrett, David Bracken and Madison Bracken; one great-granddaughter, Eliza Barrett; a brother, Olin William (Ace) Bracken; and many nieces and nephews.
Friends are invited to call on the family at Burton Westlake Funeral Home, 3801 W. 26th St. (at Powell Avenue), Erie, on Sunday from 3 to 6 p.m. and are invited to services at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, 1070 Dutch Road, Fairview, on Monday at 10 a.m.
Memorials may be made to YMCA of Corry, 903 N. Center St., Corry, PA 16407; Erie Community Foundation, Charles H. and Barbara B. Bracken Fund, 459 W. 6th St., Erie, PA 16501; Episcopal Cathedral of St. Paul, 134 W. 7th St., Erie, PA 16501; or Hamot Second Century Fund, 302 French St., Erie PA 16507.
Send condolences at www.Burtonfuneralhome.