Wayne Ellsworth Brant

Wayne Ellsworth Brant, of rural Thayer, Kansas passed away early Sunday morning, May 2, 2021 at the Neosho Memorial Regional Medical Center in Chanute.

Born at his paren’s home in rural Earlton, Kansas on July 5, 1921 to Harrison “Harry” and Blanche (Greve) Brant, Wayne was the first of two children.

He graduated eighth grade in 1935 and stayed at home on the farm for three years before attending Chanute High School and graduating at the age of 20 in 1942. While in high school, Wayne was inducted into the National Honor Society and was elected as the State of Kansas FFA President. In the summer of 1942, Wayne and his brother K.W. Brant both enlisted in the military in Wichita, Kansas. 

Shortly after his enlistment in the Coast Guard, Wayne was stationed in northern California, patrolling the beaches. The area was known as the Lost Coast, and for good reason, as it was an incredibly remote area. It was during this time on the Lost Coast, that Wayne found true love in Fortuna, CA. In spring 1943, while attending the Fortuna Monday Club dance, which was frequented by service men, he met Marjorie “Marge” Ritola. They did not begin dating until fall 1943, but the relationship between the two blossomed quickly, and on June 3, 1944, the two were married in Oakland, CA.  

Later in 1944, the couple briefly lived in Boston, Massachusetts, as Wayne patrolled cargo ships that sailed across the Atlantic between the U.S. and Europe. At the conclusion of World War II, the couple settled in rural Earlton. Their trip home following the war in 1945 was Marge’s first time in Kansas, and she discovered that the luxuries of indoor plumbing and electricity had not yet made their way to the Midwest! In 1946, they welcomed their first child, Sharon (Brant) Frankenbery, followed by a second daughter in 1948, Shirley (Brant) Richards. Their third and final child, Jerry Brant, was born in 1952. 

With Marge being uprooted from her family on the West Coast, the young family made several car trips back to California to visit the Ritola family and other relatives. It was very common for Jerry to sleep in the back window of the car.

In 1960, the family of five built a home in rural Thayer, and it is the same home that Wayne and Marge lived in until Wayne’s passing. As a lifelong farmer and rancher, Wayne’s life centered around a 5- to 10-mile area between Thayer and Chanute, which is typical of most farm families. Wayne did not indulge in many hobbies, other than being a very avid reader. Life on the farm was where he felt most at peace and in his true element. Wayne’s incredibly sharp memory was a distinguishing trait, as he could vividly recall details from his years in the service, such as names of roads and buildings in northern California that he had not visited in more than 70 years. His remarkable memory was still very sharp into his mid-90’s. Not only was his mind quite sharp, he was blessed with physical health well into his 90’s – at age 97, he was actively feeding cattle with the tractor and was still climbing the grain bin ladder!

Wayne is survived by his wife of 76 years and their three children: Sharon Frankenbery (and husband Marlen) of Altoona, Kansas; Shirley Richards (and husband Don) of Siloam Springs, Arkansas; Jerry Brant (and wife Sherrie) of Thayer, Kansas. He is also survived by seven grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren.

Wayne was preceded in death by his parents and one brother.

Visitation will occur Thursday, May 6, 2021 at Wickham Family Funeral Home in Chanute from 5 to 7 pm. Funeral services will be held at the Wickham Family Funeral Home in 500 North Forest Ave, Chanute, KS, at 10 am Friday, May 7, 2021 with burial at the Earlton Cemetery.

Memorial remembrances are suggested to the Thayer United Methodist Church and the Chanute Honor Guard.  Military Honors will be presented by the Chanute Honor Guard.

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