On Nov. 21, 1930, in Texarkana, Ark., God had a very special plan for countless hosts of people. Sister Brankel’s life story bears witness of that.
On that Friday in November, Neta Jean Solley was born into the home of Laxton David Solley and Myrtle Nettie Solley. Later on, Neta’s family, including her sister, Geneva Ruth, would meet some wonderful people who would become lifelong friends, Jesse and Trudy Pope, who would share the Gospel and lead their entire family to the Lord when Neta was 12 years old. This was the greatest event in her life and would impact the lives of countless others.
A young preacher from Oklahoma came to Texarkana to hold a revival in Neta’s home church. Needless to say, she captured this preacher’s heart, and he captured hers. Shortly after she graduated from Arkansas High School, Donald L. Brankel and Neta Jean Solley were married on June 14, 1949, in Hope, Ark. That union would become an inseparable one; a “dynamic duo,” if you will, in God’s Kingdom. They were an indomitable pair! Loving one another, supporting one another, and always encouraging each other. Brother Brankel always seemed to preach better when Neta was in “the amen corner!” Some of Neta’s fondest memories were of their years as evangelists, holding revivals, and pulling their fifth wheel travel trailer. (In fact, in her most recent years, she would often talk of those times, and even wonder if they should get another fifth wheel!) Don has often admiringly spoken about the faithful companion Neta was. No matter the place or circumstances, she never spoke a complaining word—not one. Ultimately, they would minister in 49 states, Canada, South America, Latin America, The Philippines, and Africa, leading countless souls to Christ.
Their home was blessed by two daughters who survive Neta: Leenetta Ruth (Brinkie) Tyler and Jacqueta Ann Cantrell. She and her daughters shared a very special and loving bond with one another. They sang together as the “Brankel Trio.”
As life unfolded, Neta fulfilled many roles: A devoted Christian; always a devoted, loving wife and sweetheart to Brother Brankel for 68 years; according to her daughters, “The best mother in the world;” tireless pastor’s wife; evangelistic partner; musician and singer; excellent seamstress; extraordinary gardener; and cattle rancher! But, perhaps one of her favorite titles was “Granny Brankel” to five grandchildren who survive her: Regina Ivey, Cindy Cowling, Chad Cantrell, Marc Cantrell, and Marsha Yoder. Her grandchildren loved and respected her and loved her delicious cooking. She would be blessed abundantly with 12 great-grandchildren: Drew and Devon Ivey; Lauren Ashley Cowling; Collin, Ben, Lily, Marc Jr., and Wesley Cantrell; MaKayla Yoder; and Layken and Landen Johnson, and Tanner Yoder (deceased).
Neta was blessed with a wonderful brother-in-law, Bob Roberts, Geneva’s husband, who she so admired, and two sons in-law: Brazes Tyler (deceased) and Larry Cantrell who loved her immensely, as she loved them. Many nieces and nephews and an innumerable host of friends survive Neta.
Neta’s story on this earth ended on Feb. 3, 2018. But her life did not end. On the contrary. She is now at home with her Lord and Savior rejoicing with those many friends and loved ones who had preceded her in this life. She is healed, well, complete, and whole.
To say she was admired and loved by many is truly an understatement. Her family and a host of friends around the world cherished her as a true lady and Godly example. Only eternity will witness the impact of this very beautiful and blessed life we honor and celebrate today.
Funeral service was Feb. 6 at Faith Assembly of God Church in Texarkana, Ark., with the Rev. Andy Harris and the Rev. Martha Tennison officiating. Burial was at Memorial Gardens under the direction of East Funeral Home-Moores Lane.
Online tributes can be posted at www.eastfuneralhomes.com or East Funeral Home facebook page.