Melissa Rose Burniston Bratton, 35, of Columbia, passed away on October 27, 2019, after a very short but valiant battle with an aggressive brain tumor. She was the firstborn to Harvey and Maureen Burniston on November 11, 1983 in Boone, North Carolina. She was the oldest of three girls. Being the bigger sister to Michelle and Mallarie, she planted roots of courage and ambition for them to follow.
With her father as an agricultural education teacher and FFA advisor, the love of agriculture was instilled in her at a young age. And no surprise, when she reached high school she became a dedicated member of the Johnson County FFA chapter. Her roots continued to run deep in the blue corduroy jacket as she served Tennessee FFA from 2002-2003 as the East Tennessee State Vice President.
She attended Tennessee Tech University where she double majored in agricultural education and agricultural communications, and after interning with Tennessee Farm Bureau in 2004, she quickly realized her passion was for communicating the story of agriculture. Farm Bureau knew she was something special and brought her on board fulltime in 2006 as assistant director of communications. Melissa took over the role as editor of Tennessee Home & Farm and Tennessee Farm Bureau News in 2013. But the biggest event in her life that year was marrying Kyle Bratton October 19, 2013 at her favorite place on Earth – her parents’ home in the mountains of Butler, Tennessee.
Even more than the love of those mountains was her desire to be a mother, and in 2015, Melissa and Kyle were blessed with their daughter, Madelyn Rose. Thinking life couldn’t get any better, in 2017 Liam arrived and gave the Burnistons a much-anticipated boy. Everyone who knew Melissa knew she had a heart after God and daily she poured her strong faith over her children, singing Amazing Grace and Jesus Loves Me to them at bedtime.
Melissa attended First United Methodist Church of Columbia where she and Kyle spent countless moments with their dear friends in Sunday school. She was a servant and a light to all who crossed paths with her. Her contagious smile and love for all was evident always. She cherished her precious family, many friends and the work she did for people. The root of the matter is: she was taken from this world too soon, but in the time she had here everyone she touched was blessed with her presence and love.
She is survived by her loving husband, Kyle Bratton; children, Madelyn and Liam Bratton; parents, Harvey and Maureen Burniston; sisters, Michelle (Ricky) Hansen and Mallarie (Cody) Graybeal; grandfather, Harvey Burniston, Sr.; father- and mother-in-law, Ronny and Debbie Bratton; sister-in-law, Kelly (Matthew) Priest; nieces and nephews, Braylin Hansen, Rylin Hansen, Emilia Graybeal, George Graybeal; Garrett Priest, Audrey Priest; aunts and uncles, Kathy Burniston, James (Susan) Burniston, Laurie Dunn, Tom (Becky) Burniston, Tom Gasper; great aunt, Barbara Brennan.
She is preceded in death by grandparents, Carter Burniston, George and Rosemary Gasper; uncle, Bill Gasper; aunt, Kathy Welch.
The family will receive friends on Wednesday, October 30 from 4:00 to 7:00 CST at First United Methodist Church, 222 W. 7th Street, Columbia, TN 38401.
Visitation Thursday, October 31 from 2:00 to 3:00 CST will be at the First Baptist Church (The First Family), 2790 Pulaski Highway, Columbia, TN 38401 with a celebration of Melissa’s life at 3:00. Graveside services will follow at Polk Memorial Gardens.
Honorary pallbearers are their Family Night Group.
Donations can be made to the Ronald Kyle Bratton Benefit Account at any First Farmers and Merchants branch in Middle Tennessee or mailed c/o Ronald Kyle Bratton Benefit Account, PO Box 1148, Columbia, TN 38402-1148. For questions call 931-388-3145.
FFA Foundation contributions can be made online in memory of Melissa at tnffa.org/donate-now (include within the comment section c/o Melissa Burniston Bratton Memorial) or mail to: Tennessee FFA Foundation, c/o Melissa Burniston Bratton Memorial, Box 5034, Tennessee Tech University, Cookeville, TN 38505.
We invite you to share your stories, memories and photos of Melissa at tnfarmbureau.org/melissa. These will be collected into a storybook to share with Melissa’s children when they are older.