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Frances Ruth Graham
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Obituary for Frances Ruth Graham

Frances Ruth Graham, age 95, of Johnston, Iowa, passed away on Tuesday, April 11, 2017 at Bishop Drumm Care Center.

Frances was born to Lacy D. and Ruth J. (Henderson) Hill on December 14, 1921 at their home in rural Coggon, IA. She was a graduate of Coggon High School, then Iowa State College (Ames, IA) in 1943 with a degree in Homemaking. Frances taught at Kalona High School, Kalona, IA for two years, then at West Union High School in West Union, IA for three years. While teaching in West Union Frances met John W. Graham. They were married on December 20, 1947 at her parents’ home in Coggon and celebrated nearly 52 years together. John preceded her in death on October 29, 1999 in West Union, IA.

After marriage Frances left her teaching position and put her homemaking skills to use on their home north of Hawkeye, IA, where they farmed for 35 years. Together they raised three children who survive: John R. (Nancy) Graham of Burlington, Iowa; James H. (Ruth) Graham of Cochise, AZ; and Willona Graham (Steven) Goers of Des Moines, IA. She is also survived by grandchildren Matthew (Stacey Pettorini) Graham, Margo (Adrian) Smith, Nathan (Elise) Campbell, Tyler (Courtney O’Connor) Graham, and Andrew (Chelsea) Goers; great-grandchildren Alekzander and Reagan (Matthew) Graham, and Gwendolyn (Margo) Smith; sister-in-law Margaret Hill; and several nieces and nephews. In addition to her husband and parents, she was preceded in death by a baby sister, Esther, and brother Robert R. Hill.

Frances was a devoted wife and mother. She was also very active in her local community. She and John W. were long-time members of the Hawkeye United Methodist Church. She was a 4-H leader for many years and was inducted into both the Fayette County and the Iowa 4-H Hall of Fame. She was the chairperson for the Fayette County Iowa Federated Women’s Club and was the chair for the American Bicentennial Committee for Fayette County from 1972-1976.

She was perhaps best known for her tireless work on Fayette County history. As a charter member and long-time volunteer at their Historical Center, Frances served as a researcher and administrator. She authored history books on several towns and assisted with the 1976 county history. She was recognized at the local and state level for her commitment as a local historian.

In later years she moved from Fayette County to Johnston, IA and was an active resident in the Bishop Drumm Retirement Center community, where she made many friends. Her interest in learning continued throughout her life.

Visitation will be held Wednesday, May 10 from 6:00-8:00 p.m. at the Fayette County Historical Center. The memorial service will be held at the Hawkeye United Methodist Church on Thursday, May 11 at 10:00 a.m. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to the Fayette County Historical Center or the Hawkeye United Methodist Church.

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