Doris Evelene Johnston Graves

Published 12:01 am Tuesday, May 5, 2015

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March 28, 1927 – May 3, 2015

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NATCHEZ — Services for Doris Evelene Johnston Graves, 88, will be at 10 a.m. Thursday at Laird Funeral Home Chapel with the Rev. Dillon Wickliffe officiating.

Burial will follow at the Greenlawn Memorial Park Cemetery under the direction of Laird Funeral Home.

Visitation will be at 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at the funeral home.

Mrs. Graves, who was a daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, gardener, chef, bowler and friend, entered heaven’s gates Saturday, May 3, 2015.

From an early age, Doris understood the value of the land and the Lord’s command to take care of those around you.

Born in Liddieville, La., March 28, 1927, the daughter of a sharecropper, she spent her early years in the fields tending the earth. She could grow anything from a small seed, and her flowers would spread across the yard under her watchful eye. With her beloved husband, Charles, they maintained a garden that provided for a number of families, friends and those in need. During the summer, she could be found in the middle of the rows, harvesting the bounty to share with others. For her signature “BLT,” their home grown tomatoes could not be topped.

The men in Doris’ life were many. She loved her father, James Johnson, and shared a number of memories of making corn husk dolls with her brothers, J.C. Johnson, Grady Johnston and Willie Johnston. She married her husband of 66 years, Charles Graves and they had two amazing sons, Charles Ray Graves of Jackson and Billy Ralph Graves of Natchez, who inherited her love of travel.

Doris’ mother, Emma Johnson, instilled in her the ability to be both a strong and caring woman. Sharing all she had was something she learned early. Most everything she had as a young girl belonged to all the family, including her sister, Emma Lee Chevalier. She became a nurse’s aide and with her dear friend, Dr. Margaret Veller, helped deliver a number of Natchez citizens. Along with her sister, Mary Jane Womack, she mastered the art of frying bream and perch, caught from their boat on the Old River or on Bushley Bayou, but never settled the debate of who made the best hushpuppies. Anyone who came to her house was offered a cup of true Southern sweet tea and dessert, and she would share her recipes with all who asked.

As her family grew, so did her love. She welcomed six grandchildren, Edward “Ted” Graves of Natchez, Steffanfe Graves Beisse of Kailua, Hawaii, Kelley Graves of Beaumont, Texas, Tara Graves Duessel of Kingsland, Ga., Shana Graves Bursi of Madison and Adam Graves of Nashville, Tenn.; and 10 great-grandchildren.

A longtime member of the Immanuel Baptist Church, Doris sang in the choir. Although she claimed she couldn’t hold a tune in a bucket. She reminded those around her that the Lord doesn’t care what your voice sounds like, as long as you give glory to Him. She was especially proud of the choir’s cantata and was warmed to see the faces of those she loved enjoying the music.

Her greatest love, other than the Lord and her family, was bowling. Until her death, you could find Doris at Rivergate Bowling Center every Friday night beginning in 1978, when the leagues first began. She bowled in 31 Mississippi State Tournaments, 29 National Tournaments, 30 Louisiana Grandmother’s Tournaments, 27 Natchez Grandmother’s Tournaments, three Mississippi Magic Age Tournaments and a number of 600 tournaments. She served on the board of the Natchez Women’s Bowling Association for a number of years and was nominated and inducted into the Natchez Women’s Bowling Hall of Fame.

She was preceded in death by her parents; her husband; three brothers; and two sisters.

Pallbearers will be Wayne Holmes, Shelby Charlisle, Billy Joe Strong, Willie Brown, Charles Rushing and James Washington.

Honorary pallbearers will be Keith Smith, Billy Addison and David Alford.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to Immanuel Baptist Church, 684 Highway 61 North, Natchez, MS 39120.

And the peace of the Lord, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:1.

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