Walter J. Brannon appeared humbled by all the recognition Tuesday honoring his patriotic service to the community and the country.
"I feel it's a great honor and words can't express my gratitude," Brannon said.
More than 50 guests gathered at the Sewickley Valley YMCA to honor the World War II veteran and first black police chief in Sewickley, during a special naming ceremony and dedication of the YMCA's Community Activity Center.
The event included the unveiling of a wall plaque and recognition from Mayor Brian Jeffe and state Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Ambridge.
Jeffe read a proclamation, declaring Nov. 14 as "Walter Brannon Day" in Sewickley. Brannon was also presented with an official citation from the House of Representatives as tribute.
“We’re truly honored to have this bestowed on our father,” said Walter Brannon Jr. of Boston, speaking on behalf of the family.
Brannon Jr., one of five children, said he knows his mother, Walter Sr.'s late wife, Laura, would be proud.
“I think my mother had a lot to do with keeping him in line,” he said
Brannon was born in Sept. 23, 1924 in Martinsburg, WV. His father died when he was a youth and the family moved to Sewickley. Brannon later served in the U.S. Army during Word War II. He was stationed in France and was part of the D-Day Invasion of Normandy, earning three bronze stars.
Brannon returned to Sewickley and started in the police department in 1952. He was promoted chief in 1976 serving until his retirement in 1992.
Brannon is an active member of St. Matthews AME Zion Church, where he serves as a trustee. Many church members were in attendance at the ceremony, including his pastor, the Rev. Robert Hickey, who gave the invocation.
Brannon recently retired from the YMCA's board of directors, and was also recognized by Y leaders.
Trish Hooper, YMCA CEO, said Brannon was a member of the property committee while serving on the board. She said Brannon's contributions are evident in the Y's buildings.
"Walter was always a leader. We were the better for it. Sewickley was the better for it," she said.
In addition to the YMCA, Brannon has served on numerous boards including the Sewickley Community Center, Heritage Valley Sewickley hospital, American Legion Post 450 and as former president of the Kiwanis Club.