SALUDA– Betty Ann Graham of Saluda, went home to be with the Lord on Tuesday evening, September 28, 2021, at her home with her loving family by her side.
Betty was a native Floridian who was born and raised in Miami. She met Gil when she was 18 and he was 17. One of his favorite stories is that he ‘lost’ a coin toss between going on a date with her sister or her! By the time that he revealed this to her many years later, it was evident that he was the real winner as they just celebrated 73 years together in June. They raised a family of four in an idyllic beach town. Church life was a very important part of her life–being the welcoming receptionist, teaching a young ladies Sunday School class, singing in the choir, serving church suppers, cutting many wedding cakes, summer vacations in NC with her church family not only brought joy to her but gave her lifelong friendships.
After they raised their children, she and Gil moved to their dream mountain home that Gil built in Saluda, NC. They quickly found a new church family at Saluda First Baptist. She was the quintessential hostess with her large family and many friends, and her cooking was enjoyed by many. Her sweet tea, cornbread, banana pudding, and Oreo Freeze are all family favorites that have been freely shared. She learned how to garden when she moved to the mountains and canning became her special skill that brought 100s of quarts of green beans that she would pass out to her family when they came to visit.
Her love for her grandchildren was displayed by her and Gil taking all of them for two weeks in the summertime since she wanted the cousins to know each other—and they have all formed strong bonds to this day. Her 20 great grandchildren (and another one on the way in April) also gave her great joy.
Their home was filled with love and a warm spirit to all those who visited. Her guest book is overflowing with names from around the world. She always had a glass of tea ready and a front porch swing to share and ‘catch up’ with each other.
In her final hours, she was encircled by her children, and she heard from all her grandchildren and several of her great grands telling her that they loved her and what she meant to them. Her passing from this life was by hymn-singing, hand squeezes, hugs, soft words of love and encouragement to give our love to those who have passed on before her. She will be greatly missed by the ones she left behind, but our lives are forever richer because of her influence and love.
Betty was preceded in death by her parents, Merle Beebe and Hazel Grove Beebe and her great granddaughter, Violet. Surviving is her loving husband of 73 years, Gilbert Graham; two sons, Walter Graham (Denise) of Lake City, FL and Ken Graham (Vicki) of Buford, GA; two daughters, Diane Warden (Len) of Toccoa, GA and Kathy Kicklighter of Louisville, KY; one sister, Muriel Walker of Altoona, FL; ten grandchildren, Geoffrey Graham (Jessica), Blake Graham (Whitney), Jeremy Warden (Berenice), Evan Warden (Ashley), Angelynn Ballew (Joel), Chris Graham Adia/fiancée), Theresa Graham, Michael Kicklighter (Catherine), Aaron Kicklighter (Marla) and Jacob Kicklighter (Emily); twenty great-grandchildren, Lundee Ann, Weston, Gauge, Adam, Megan, Logan, Eli, Maddie, Charlie, Jack, Taylor, Reagan, McKinley, Zane, Michael David, Isaac, Roman, Ellie, Freya and Murphy.
A funeral will be held at 2:00 p.m., Saturday, October 2, 2021, at First Baptist Church of Saluda with Reverend Tony Reese and Reverend Len Warden officiating.
The family will receive friends prior to the service Saturday from 1:00 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. at the church.
Burial will follow in Saluda City Cemetery.
Memorials may be made to her grandchildren serving in the mission field: Angie and Joel Ballew/ Columbia SA: Checks made out to: South America Mission, in memo section reference: Joel & Angel Ballew-10543 1021 Maxwell Mill Road, Suite B, Fort Mill, SC 29708 For online purposes: https://southamericamission.org/donate/missionaries/ballew-joel-and-angel/
Jeremy & Berenice Warden / Joinville / Brazil: Donate at give.missionquest.org—search for Jeremy and Berenice Warden in the search bar
An online guest register is available at mcfarlandfuneralchapel.com
McFarland Funeral Chapel & Crematory
Tryon, North Carolina