Mary Josephine Graham was born on March 13, 1928 in Rossville, Illinois, the daughter of Harry and Pauline Beckley. She went to be with her heavenly Father on October 10, 2020. Mary Jo grew up right across the street from her husband to be, Jack Ray Graham. One family story states that as babies, Jack and Mary were laid on a bed together. Their mothers remarked how funny it would be if they married someday! Their marriage lasted 70 years until death did they part. They had known each other for 90 years! As a teenager, Mary Jo worked in the Rossville Hardware store owned by her father and mayor of Rossville, Harry Beckley. Jack and Mary were united in marriage on June 26, 1948. Their first child, Connie, was born on February 18, 1951. Three years later a son, Roger, was born on April 23, 1954. Jack and Mary moved to Danville in the early 1950’s.
Mary was a stay at home mom for the early part of her family life. She always had dinner on the table for her family each evening and many wonderful conversations as well as learning experiences happened at this dinner table. Mary Jo was active in the PTA and was a room mother in the late 1950’s.
Mary had a infectious laugh and happy spirit. She was instrumental in getting her children involved in many activities such as; baseball, football, basketball, swimming, singing, piano, tap, ballet, acrobatics, jazz, and cheerleading. As her children grew older, Mary ran for election as a precinct committee woman and won!
She then returned to school and became a hairdresser. She was then able to work out of her home and still be there for her teenage children. As her children’s college days arrived, Mary began working as a secretary in shipping and receiving at Danville Junior College. She was an early riser, often getting to work an hour before her actual work time. She retired from Danville Junior College in the early 1990’s.
Mary Jo loved people and was so giving in helping others. She helped a Vietnamese family (Ben and Kim Dang) adjust to life in this country and they became a part of our family attending our various celebrations such as Thanksgiving and Christmas. She had many friends and always was willing to lend a hand. Mary Jo has also been a member of Central Park Church of Christ.
Mary leaves a family legacy of two children, Connie (Michael) Ernst of Hoffman Estates, Illinois and Roger (Tammy) Graham of Danville, Illinois as well as five grandchildren, Eric (Heather) Ernst, Kyle (Steffanie) Ernst, Ryan (Ashley) Graham, Cole (Kasi) Graham, and Ashlee (Will) Leonard and twelve great grandchildren, Ally Josephine Ernst, Kate Evelyn Ernst, Rhett Michael Ernst, Weston Hamilton Ernst, Pierce Robert Ernst, Audee Kay Graham. Dugan Jackson Graham, Paxton Michael Graham, Jack Douglas Graham, Brooks Andrew Graham, Maisie Kay Leonard and Miya May Leonard.
A Celebration of Life Service will be held on Friday, October 16, 2020 at 1:00 PM at Sunset Funeral Home and Cremation Center in Danville, IL, 3940 N Vermilion St. Danville, Illinois 61834. Dave Hastings and Raymie Gordon will co-officiate. A 2:00 PM Public Graveside Committal Service will be in Sunset Memorial Park following the Celebration of Life Service. Visitation will be held on Thursday, October 15, 2020 from 5:00 – 7:00 PM at the funeral home.
It is kindly requested that those in attendance of service and/or visitation wear a mask and practice social distancing.
Memorials may be made in Mary’s memory to Central Park Church of Christ.
Please join Mary’s family in sharing memories, photos, and videos on her tribute wall at www.sunsetfuneralhome.com .
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