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Martha Rose Graham

February 4, 1927 - August 6, 2015
Grand Rapids, MI

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Visitations


Wednesday, August 12, 2015
2:00 PM to 4:00 PM EDT
Heritage Life Story Funeral Homes
Alt & Shawmut Chapel
2120 Lake Michigan Dr., N.W.
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
(616) 453-8263
Driving Directions

Wednesday, August 12, 2015
7:00 PM to 9:00 PM EDT
Heritage Life Story Funeral Homes
Alt & Shawmut Chapel
2120 Lake Michigan Dr., N.W.
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
(616) 453-8263
Driving Directions

Thursday, August 13, 2015
10:00 AM to 11:00 AM EDT
Faith United Methodist Church
2600 Seventh St. NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504

Services


Thursday, August 13, 2015
11:00 AM EDT
Faith United Methodist Church
2600 Seventh St. NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
Map
Web Site

Contributions


At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.

Faith United Methodist Church
2600 Seventh St. NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
Web Site

Life Story / Obituary


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Martha Rose Graham was a warm and loving wife, mother, grandmother, great grandmother, sister and friend. It was her greatest joy to care for them all. She was faith-filled and kind-hearted, out-going and fun-loving. Because of her laughter and love, she was considered the best friend of everyone she knew. Because of her scrupulous attention to detail and her phenomenal memory, Martha made those around her feel as if they were the most important people on earth. And they were, because Martha was truly interested in them and loved them with a deep and abiding love.

Martha Rose was born February 4, 1927 in Grand Rapids, Michigan to Jesse Rae and Nancy (West) Fish. In May of that year, Charles Lindbergh made his historic transatlantic flight in 33.5 hours, spurring a can-do spirit in American industry. Use of the assembly line was enabling mass production of Henry Ford’s automobile, and earlier in the decade, the Suffrage Movement had won women the right to vote.

Martha came of age during the Great Depression, and as a 12-year old, she began contributing to her father’s income as a furniture maker by delivering newspapers, washing, baking and keeping house for neighbors. It was Martha’s nature to keep busy and help wherever she could.

The Fish family lived on Alpine Church Road NW in Alpine Township, Michigan, where Barbara, June, Martha, Jerry and Janet attended Colton Elementary School. Martha graduated from Creston High School in 1945 and took a job as long distance operator with Michigan Bell Telephone.

Several years earlier, Martha had been keeping correspondence with a serviceman, Gale Graham, whom she had known as a young girl, but only met on occasion. Gale’s aunt was married to Martha’s uncle, and the two would see each other at family gatherings. With the outbreak of WWII, Gale joined US Army Air Corps and Martha wrote to him for the three years he was in service. After his discharge and her graduation, they had a chance to date formally, but Gale proposed as soon as June of 1945. The loving couple married on August 18, 1945 at St. John Vianney Catholic Church in southwest Grand Rapids and honeymooned at Big White Fish Lake.

If busyness marked Martha’s young life, then moving characterized married life with her contractor husband. The newlyweds first lived in a rented home until Gale built a house on Thorndyke SW. Then they moved to Lake Macatawa in Ottawa County, Colerain Street in Wyoming, Johnson Street in Ottawa County, then in Coopersville for twelve years and finally Oakleigh Avenue, where they live to this day. Over the years, Gale worked in construction and started his own tile and wallpaper business, which he held until his retirement. Martha had plenty of opportunities to make their multiple residences into welcoming homes for friends as well as a family of four children: Michael born in 1947, Susan in 1950, Pat in 1953 and Sal in 1963.

Martha was a wonderful mother and meticulous homemaker. She canned and froze vegetables each fall and preserved jams and jellies. She cooked the best meat loaf, roasts and milk pork chops and the most delicious peach, butterscotch, apple, cherry and blueberry pies. In fact, Martha made a business out of pie-making, baking pies on Sunday and delivering them to customers. Still, she had time to take her kids to the theater or drive-in and to generally make life good for them. With her delightful sense of humor, she kept everyone entertained with her one-liners.

When the children were older, Martha went back into the workforce part time as a bookkeeper and then at the Civic Theater and Delta Plex. She was in her element around the theater because she was partial to old variety shows, such as Dean Martin, Red Skeleton, Benny Hill, Jackie Gleason, Carol Burnett and the sitcom, “All in the Family.” Not surprisingly, her favorite musicians were crooners Dean Martin and Perry Como and Nashville’s Jim Reaves and Patsy Cline. Martha was an avid fan of the Detroit Tigers and the Pistons and a voracious reader of murder mysteries by James Patterson, Dick Francis and Janet Evanovich. For a time, she belonged to a book club at church, where she and Gale were members—first with Coopersville Methodist Church for many years and later with Faith United Methodist Church.

As a couple, Martha and Gale took many boat trips around inland waters in Michigan, and in retirement, they went on a number of cruises to the Caribbean, Mexico and Aruba. Yet Martha always loved coming home to be with family and caring for another generation of grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The older ones had the privilege of going to the theater with Grandma, but all of them had the pleasure of visiting “Grandma’s Café” where they could choose from a variety of items that she would make for them. One item that was always on the table was cucumbers with ranch dressing—something every kid could enjoy.

Martha was so very proud of her children and grandchildren and took a deep interest in all of them. She was directly involved in their lives, never forgetting a single detail of what mattered to them and always rallying the family in their time of sorrow or tragedy.

Sadly, Martha suffered a massive stroke on August 4th and was taken to Metro Hospital, but little could be done. She died Thursday, August 6, 2015 at 7:58 AM with her loving family at her side. Martha will be deeply missed and lovingly remembered by all who had the privilege of knowing her.

Martha Rose Graham, aged 88 of Grand Rapids, Michigan is survived by her loving husband of 70 years, Gale Graham; her children, Michael (Kristi) Graham, Susan Cuson, Pat Graham, Sal (Scott) Ambutavicz; her grandchildren, Sarah LeForte, Jesse Graham, Erin Bonnington, Janet (Keith) Jaglowski, Heidi (Donn) Rimgale; 9 great grandchildren; her sister, June Boeve; many nieces, nephews and friends. She was preceded in death by her great grandson, Jonathan Rimgale. A service to celebrate Martha’s life will be held on Thursday, August 13 at 11:00 AM at Faith United Methodist Church. Burial in Rosedale Cemetery. Relatives and friends may meet her family on Wednesday August 12, from 2-4 and 7-9 PM at Heritage Lifestory Funeral Home – 2120 Lake Michigan Dr. NW. Contributions in her memory may be made to Faith United Methodist Church. To read more about Martha’s life, to sign her guest book and to leave your own memory of her, visit her web page at www.lifestorynet.com

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