Richard P. Branson, 70, a retired top official with the Sheet Metal Workers International of America, died Dec. 17 at Georgetown University Hospital. He had prostate cancer.

Mr. Branson, a District resident, spent his early adulthood in a monastery before becoming a pipefitter. He joined the union in the 1970s and became a regional general chairman. He retired in 2005 as a union representative.

For the past several years, he co-owned Branahan Tours, a company that specialized in visits to Ireland.

Richard Patrick Branson, the youngest of 13 children, was born in Washington and graduated from a Catholic high school in Baltimore.

In 1960, he joined the Crosiers, a Catholic religious order, and spent 13 years as Brother Matthias at a monastery in Nebraska. After a visit with family, he left the monastery, returned to Washington and married.

He was a member of St. Dominic Catholic Church in Washington and the Knights of Columbus. He did volunteer work at the church and Walter Reed Army Medical Center. The Archdiocese of Washington honored Mr. Branson for his charitable work.

Survivors include his wife of 37 years, Elysia Ryan Branson of Washington; three children, Justin M. Branson of Washington, Joshua R. Branson of Aldie and Elysia-Marie Branson of Glasgow, Scotland; two brothers, Herman Branson of Kent Island, Md., and Ernie Branson of Gaithersburg; and two granddaughters.

— Adam Bernstein