Thomas Charles Graves, 90, passed away on November 1 at his daughter's home in Jupiter Farms, FL. Tom was born August 15, 1923 in Chattanooga, Tennessee, to Thomas B. and Vivian H. Hannah. He spent his childhood in Chattanooga and Dalton, Georgia. In 1943, Tom interrupted his college career to serve his country during World War II
. He was with the 69th Infantry Division (F Co., 273rd Infantry Regiment) during World War II. Tom 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 gravely wounded in Leipzig, Germany, and hospitalized for a year. Once released, he returned to his beloved Daytona Beach, 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 college at John B. Stetson University in DeLand and graduated with a degree in Business Administration in 1948. Shortly after, he began work as a Deputy Collector for the IRS in Miami, Daytona Beach and Jacksonville, covering his territory in his un-air conditioned VW bug. While in Jacksonville, he met his future wife, Genevieve "Jean" Lide. They married in Coral Gables in 1949. In 1954, Tom moved his growing family to the Hillcrest neighborhood, across from Vedado Park in West Palm Beach. He was promoted to Group Manager for the West Palm Beach IRS office on Iris Street. In 1962, the family moved "way out in the boondocks" to Lake Clarke Shores, 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 outside with his many projects on the cars, the yard and in the garage. In 1985, they finally realized their dream and bought a 6-1/2 acre Christmas tree farm in the beautiful mountains of Etowah, North Carolina, 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 passed their way. For 17 years they made 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 three children: son David (daughter-n-law Jeanne), daughters Deborah McCarty (son-in-law Chris) and Laura (son-in-law Cliff Gordon), three grandchildren Emily Graves, James Renard and beloved Dylan Gordon, brother Bill Graves (sister-in-law Joan), nieces Betsy Graves Myers and Shannon Graves, great-nieces Abby and Natalie Myers, nephews Phil Randall (Mary Ann) and Dick Randall (Pat), and five great-nieces and nephews, and his godson, Scott Stevens. Many friends remain to treasure the memory of this fine man. For your kindness shown to us, a special thank you to all the people who helped Tom live such a long life: Dr. Lotfi and staff, Dr. Fuquay and staff, Dr. Levy and staff, Lincare, Always Best Care Senior Services, the VA Medical Center, Dr. Martinez, Dr. Walif Aji, Dr. Arthur Palamara, The Memory Disorder Center, Tequesta Terrace, Honor Flight of Volusia County, Hospice of Palm Beach County, and Lisa Key, our Earth Angel, 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. Graveside service with full military honors will be held at Oakdale Cemetery in Hendersonville, North Carolina, on Friday, November 8th. He will be laid to rest next to his wife Jean. Family and friends are invited to speak. A memorial service celebrating his life will be held at his home at a later date. Donations in his honor can be made to a place that was near and dear to him: YMCA Camp Ocoee, 111 YMCA Drive, Ocoee, TN 37361 (Please mention his name). Donations will help send a child to camp. Funeral arrangements entrusted to Thos. Shepherd & Son Funeral Directors, 125 South Church Street, Hendersonville, NC 28792 (www.thosshepherd.com
), phone 828-693-3435.
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