Life Story / Obituary
Evelyn Dorothy Graves always got a home-cooked dinner on the table, promptly at 6 p.m., no matter where that table was or whether she’d been helping her husband build a house, skiing all day with her children and grandchildren, or doing more customary grandmotherly tasks like knitting Christmas stockings. Mrs. Graves, “Ev,” died Thursday at age 96.
Ev was born in Racine, Wisc., to parents William and Ella Allen and grew up with three siblings, Beverly, William, and Carol. She married her high school sweetheart, James “Jim” Graves, in 1948. They took their Irish setter Murphy along on their honeymoon, camping at Niagara Falls.
Jim owned a sign company and built houses. Ev did the bookkeeping for the sign company, mixed concrete for the houses, took care of their home, and raised four children, John, Bob, Nancy, and Linda.
The Graveses were athletic and loved the outdoors, skiing in the winter and water skiing, playing tennis, hiking, and camping in the summer. From the beginning of their marriage, Jim and Ev took trips to the Rocky Mountains to ski, first with a ski club and, as their children grew old enough to ski, as annual family trips, often with extended family and their good friends, the Linstroth family. Ev and Jim went skiing in Aspen in 1950, only a few years after the ski mountain opened, and the Graveses and their children skied at Snowmass and Vail the years those ski areas opened.
The whole Graves family fell in love with Colorado and all lived there as adults. Ev could name every peak in the Aspen area and loved wildflowers, hummingbirds, and watching the Aspen leaves turn gold in the fall. When Linda, the youngest of their four children, graduated from high school, Jim and Ev followed their dream of living in Aspen and Snowmass Village, Colo. Jim built houses for a living, often with the help of his adult children who sometimes lived with them. Once a house was semi-habitable, they would move in while they finished construction, then sell it and move on to the next house. When they were not working, they skied. It was a family tradition to ski on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. When they got home from skiing, Ev, with help from her children, would cook a holiday dinner. Ev’s children said she was a calm, patient, warm mother. She gave her children the freedom to learn independence and also taught her kids to pitch in.
As Ev got older and her children spread out across the United States and the Bahamas, she loved to visit them. But nothing made her happier than when the whole family got together, usually in Colorado. Ev and Jim said in their later years that they considered their life a success because their children were all good people with caring spouses. The siblings are all good friends and see each other often despite living all over the country.
“They felt that their greatest accomplishment was the loving family that they raised,” John said.
After Jim died in 2019, Evelyn moved back to Racine, where she enjoyed being close to her son Bob and his family as well as extended family.
Evelyn is survived by her sister Carol; her four children and their spouses; and her grandchildren
Rachel Graves, Eric Olson, and Heather Raney.