July 27, 2013
Tom Brandon is a well-traveled man, having been to far off locales like Switzerland, Spain and France.
The insurance man from Yadkinville is now “retired” from his ownership of W.N. Ireland Insurance in Yadkinville and plans to travel, read and enjoy his newspapers.
Brandon was born in Winston-Salem but moved with his family to Yadkin County when he was 14 years old.
His uncle was the namesake of the insurance agency: W.N. Ireland. Ireland’s death in 1955 caused Brandon’s father to move the family westward from Winston and buy half of the business from Ireland’s wife.
Brandon attended school in Yadkin County beginning in the eighth grade, later graduating from then Yadkinville High School. He went on to Western Carolina University but came back to Yadkin in 1964.
He began working in the insurance business and eventually bought W.N. Ireland Insurance.
Brandon’s father and George Holmes were partners in the agency. When Brandon’s father died Brandon took over his half of the agency and worked with Holmes for many years. Ultimately Brandon bought Holmes’ half and ran the business himself.
The agency has been in existence since 1940 and is still operating under Brandon’s son Mark, who owns 51 percent of the business.
Brandon and his wife Kaye Shugart are active in the community through the Yadkinville Rotary Club, of which Brandon was a charter member.
Brandon served as a Yadkin County school board member for 16 years, was a county commissioner, and has served with the Jaycees, and been president of the Upper Yadkin Valley Habitat for Humanity.
Brandon has been to Europe several times and recently returned from attending a wedding in Southern California, but a place near and dear to him is Arizona. He and his wife previously rented a condominium and planned to stay for a trip, but her father’s deteriorating health forced her to miss much of the trip.
Brandon had the condo to himself and fell in love with the Flagstaff area, particularly the Grand Canyon. He has rafted down it with fellow Yadkinville businessmen and hopes to return soon.
He and his family are planning a month-long stay in August to give his grandchildren a chance to see the natural wonder.
Grandchildren and children are a special part of Brandon’s life. He works with a son and daughter at W.N. Ireland and sees them often, even in his retirement.
Brandon describes his love of newspapers as intense, telling the Ripple it is almost “a fetish.” Brandon is an avid reader but particularly of current events. While in SoCal recently he said he had three newspapers at the same time to stay up to date.
He maintains his insurance license and still comes in to work on Tuesdays when he is in town for Rotary. He works from home and does different tasks to help his son and the staff at the agency, even as he approaches his next birthday. He will be 71 in October.
Taylor Pardue is infrequently in the office to his current coverage of both the Yadkin Ripple and the Elkin Tribune. To best reach him, email firstname.lastname@example.org. A message can be left at 336-835-1513 ext. 15 and he will return your call as soon as possible.