COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - In a light moment during an otherwise somber event, South Carolina's former First Lady recalled a significant instant when Chamberlain Branch, the Governor's Mansion's fallen supervisor, stumbled upon her during a particularly emotional time in her life -- one that the state and the nation would soon learn about.
Branch's friends and family, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, and former governors Mark Sanford and Jim Hodges gathered Tuesday morning to celebrate his life.
The 48-year-old died when a car fleeing from police slammed into his mini-van very early Saturday morning near downtown Columbia.
The sudden and tragic death has shaken many in the Midlands, including the first families he served for more than a decade at the Governor's Mansion.
The Sanford family is well-known, of course, not for policies and governing the state, but for an affair Mark tearfully admitted to back in June 2009.
Jenny brought up the subject during her tribute to Branch.
"One of my last days at the mansion," said Jenny, "Chamberlain saw me visibly upset and crying for reasons that are now very obvious."
A mourning crowd still managed to laugh at the moment. Even the former governor and definite butt of the joke got in a good laugh.
After the laughter in the church quieted down, Jenny continued.
"But, I'll never forget his response. You know it's one of those times I wanted to say 'Yeah, let's get him.' It wasn't going to happen, and I'm crying. He looks at me and he says, in that deep voice, he says 'It's a test,' and he came up to me and hugged me and he said, 'Everything is going to be okay. It's a test. It's just a test.'"
Branch leaves a wife, Cherisse, and three children.