ETOWAH- Thomas Charles Graves, 90, of West Palm Beach, FL and Etowah, died on November 1, 2013 at his daughter, Laura's home in Jupiter Farms, FL. Tom was born August 15, 1923 in Chattanooga, TN, to the late, Thomas B. and Vivian H. Hannah. He spent his childhood in Chattanooga, TN and Dalton, GA.
In 1943, Tom interrupted his college career to serve his country during World War II
was with the 69th Infantry Division (F Co., 273rd Infantry Regiment) and saw heavy combat in Europe from 1944-1945, participating in the Battle of the Bulge, and was a part of the group that first met up with the Russians at the Elbe River. In April 1945, he was severely wounded in Leipzig, Germany, and hospitalized for a year of recovery. Once released, he returned to his beloved Daytona Beach, FL where he continued his rehabilitation in the sand and surf. He was awarded the Silver Star, Bronze Star
, Purple Heart
and the Combat Infantryman Badge. After surviving the harsh conditions at the Battle of the Bulge, he vowed never to live in a cold climate, and he never did.
He resumed his education at John B. Stetson University in DeLand, FL. and graduated with a degree in Business Administration in 1948. Shortly after, he began work as a Deputy Collector for the Internal Revenue Service in Miami, Daytona Beach and Jacksonville, FL covering his territory in his un-air conditioned Volkswagen Beetle. While in Jacksonville, Fl he met his future wife, Genevieve "Jean" Lide. They married in Coral Gables, FL in 1949. In 1954, Tom moved his growing family to the Hillcrest neighborhood, across from Vedado Park in West Palm Beach, FL. He was promoted to Group Manager for the West Palm Beach IRS office. In 1962, the family moved "way out in the boondocks" to Lake Clarke Shores, FL where they created a lifetime of memories, boating, barbecuing and having awesome parties. Jean was the perfect mom who was room Mom, Troop Leader, Southern Cook, Animal Rescuer and Shopper, while Tom worked hard to provide for his family, and spent every minute he could in the garage with his many car projects, and spending time outside in the yard.
In 1985, they finally realized their dream and bought a 6-1/2 acre Christmas tree farm in the beautiful mountains of Etowah, where they spent every summer. Tom's definition of a good day was riding that tractor in his field, taking a nap and then enjoying a glass of wine with Jean on the deck he built. They surrounded themselves with beautiful trees and flowers, and nurtured the wildlife that embraced them. For 17 years they created memories with friends and family who visited their paradise. When Jean died in 2002, Tom continued to go to their farm until his health prevented him from returning.
Tom lost his treasured sister, Betty June, in 1950 and his beloved wife Jean ("his girl") in 2002.
Tom leaves behind his three children: one son, David, and his wife, Jeanne of Danbury, CT, two daughters: Deborah McCarty and her husband, Chris, of Highland Beach, FL, and Laura Graves and her husband, Cliff Gordon, of Jupiter Farms, FL. Three grandchildren: Emily Graves, James Renard and his beloved caretaker, Dylan Gordon, as well as his brother, Bill Graves and his wife, Joan. Nieces and nephews: Betsy Graves Myers, Shannon Graves, Phil Randall and his wife, Mary Ann and Dick Randall and his wife, Pat; five great-nieces and nephews, and his godson, Scott Stevens; as well as many friends who will continue to treasure the memory of this fine man for the years to come.
For your kindness shown to us, a special thank you to all the people who helped Tom live such a long life including, Lisa Key, our Angel on Earth who treated him like a father and was by his side for the last 14 months loving and caring for him. Dad, you were loyal, fair, kind, humble and a man of integrity. You left this world a whole lot better and we will miss your presence here. Whenever we see a tractor, a hammer, or wildlife, we will feel comforted. We carry you in our hearts.
A graveside service will be held at 11:00 A.M. on Friday, November 8, 2013 at Oakdale City Cemetery, with the Reverend Deacon Timothy Jones officiating. He will be laid to rest next to his wife, Jean. A luncheon in celebration of his life will be held immediately following the service at the Kenmure Country Club in Flat Rock.
A memorial service will be held at his home in Florida at a later date.
Memorial contributions may be made in his memory to: YMCA Camp Ocoee, 111 YMCA Drive, Ocoee, TN 37361.
An online register book is available for family and friends by visiting www.thosshepherd.com.
Thos. Shepherd & Son Funeral Directors is in charge of arrangements.