Through his years as a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Horace Bratcher unknowingly became the backbone of the brotherhood. He even dubbed the term "Horacisms" to be used for his brief words of wisdom.

On March 26, Bratcher was awarded the prestigious Meritorious Award at the lodge and was entirely taken by surprise. He was initiated into Odd Fellows Lodge No. 80 Dec. 12, 1949.

“It was so unexpected. Man, they had people. They had food. My nephew was there who I’d never thought would have been there,” Bratcher emphasized. “This is for the achievement from over the years. Not just for any one thing but the achievements since 1949 for the things I’ve done.”

The 92-year-old served the majority of his life following the mission of the Odd Fellows: to visit the sick, relieve the distressed and bury the dead. Through his membership, he became the roots of Odd Fellows in Waxahachie.

Tom Wright is a trustee of the lodge and lodge secretary who has been involved in Odd Fellows for the past decade. He has known Bratcher his whole life.

“Horace doesn’t have a lot of money, but he’s one of the richest people I know. He’s been a source of strength and stability for us at the lodge since I’ve been there” Wright stressed.

During his membership, Bratcher served as noble grand, which is the president of the lodge, in 1951 and became a past-grand in 1952. He was also part of the degree team and funeral charge. As one of the missions of the lodge, Bratcher was true to tending to the sick and the dead.

“Anyone who has been at the hospital has probably met Horace,” Wright iterated. “He’s made it one of his life missions to go up there and talk to sick people, and he’s done it my whole adult life."

Wright added that Bratcher even worked a stint at a funeral home.

The lodge has served a great purpose in Bratcher’s life, too. Wright claimed the guys in the brotherhood keep Bratcher’s soul youthful. He also complimented Bratcher's level mind and eagerness to new ideas.

Not only has the brotherhood kept Bratcher young but his knack for singing as well. Any chance he is given to sing into a microphone he’s the first to volunteer.

Wright shared how every year during the Mardi Gras Ball, Bratcher would get on the bandstand to sing as the highlight of the evening. Music became his outlet and way to meet people.

Walking into the Odd Fellows Lodge in downtown, visitors are combated with steep stairs to get in. Wright explained how those steps usually discourage older members from attending, but not Bratcher. He put his pride aside.

“A lot of these older guys, when they get to that age they have to ride the chair up they stop coming because it’s a pride kind of thing. He rides that chair because he wants to be up there with us,” Wright said that meant the most to him.

“In the community, everyone knows Horace. He’s famous in Waxahachie and for all the right things too,” Wright added. “He’s gone out of his way to help people his entire life. He’s a modest man, his home is modest, his dress is modest, his car is modest. But he is so rich because he has so many friends in this town.”

As Bratcher serves as an outstanding leader to his brotherhood, he puts all of his achievements on the wise mentors in his life. He’s had an abundance of careers and experiences, living through the Great Depression, World War I and II.

At the age of 16, he was working mechanics on airplanes and enlisted in the US Navy. After World War II, he went back into mechanics but eventually became a barber, just like his father. He recalled cutting hair in Waxahachie for about 29 years.

He even gave Wright his first haircut.

Bratcher also worked for Ennis ISD as a maintenance man. He even had a very long, successful career selling cutting horses, highlighted by the 1961 Florida state champion horse and a 1965 world champion horse. Though he didn't have much guidance in the field, Bratcher did admit that he wouldn't have been as successful without his wife, Doris.

When reminiscing about Bratcher’s accomplishments and the impact he made on his chapter, Wright couldn’t help to get emotional talking about the future that one day wouldn’t include Bratcher.

“He’s one of a kind, and we all know that we won’t have him much longer and it’s a tough deal for most of us. It’s going to be a big void in our hearts and our minds when we aren’t helping up the stairs or fixing his plate. He’s that kind of guy to us,” Wright expressed.

Ashley Ford | @aford_news | 469-517-1450