Devoted son. Beloved brother. Loving husband. Dedicated father. The best grandpa.
Norman Graves was born in Denver to Clarence and Blanche on December 22, 1929. The oldest of six, Norman cherished his five baby sisters. As the eldest son, he took seriously his responsibility to his family.
In May, 1947, six months before his eighteenth birthday, Norman enlisted in the United States Army. The Air Force separated from the Army and Norman found himself an airman. He was stationed in Alaska where he specialized as a B-29 airplane and engine mechanic. On December 21, 1947, while home on leave, he married Rachel Rankin. His enlistment ended in April, 1950, when he returned home to his family in Denver. His service afforded him training to become a baker and worked as such at Star Bakers until 1951. March, 1951 saw the birth of his first daughter, Laurie.
In January, 1951, while he was serving in the Naval Reserve, he was called to active duty. He served with the Fighter Squadron 713 during the Korean War on the USS Antietam. In his nearly two years on the ship, Norman received the Korean Service Medal with two stars and the United Nations Medal. After spending most of their marriage with Norman away on a naval ship, Norman and Rachel divorced in 1953.
After Norman discharged from the military a second and final time, he put his mechanic skills to use for Western Electric as a lead equipment installer. He enjoyed putting his engineering and electrical skills to work in a new field.
In October, 1954, Norman married Alice Hill in Cody, Wyoming. As a new couple, Alice accompanied Norman as he traveled for the phone company. During the first three years of their marriage, they lived in Roswell, New Mexico, Denver, Colorado, and throughout Wyoming in Casper, Laramie, Afton, Powell, Cheyenne, and Upton.
Eventually, Norman and Alice found themselves back in Denver and in July, 1957 Robbie Marie was born. Norman and Alice bought their first home in October of that year, and in 1960, ultimately bought the home where they would raise their family and that would forever be known as “Grandma and Grandpa’s house.”
Ronald Gene was born in February, 1960; the family was complete. Norman spent many hours at the office, but made time to help with Boy Scouts and as an elder for =the Westminster Presbyterian Church. He was an enthusiastic golfer and enjoyed working on other people’s clubs in his shop in the garage.
Through the years, Western Electric changed to AT&T to Mountain Bell to US West; Norman was there for them all. He worked as a Core Engineer and Staff Manager and ultimately retired in 1985.
Because he never sat still for long, Norman’s “retirement” didn’t last long. He worked on the special needs buses for School District 50 until 1992. In his retirement, he and Alice particularly loved to take road trips all around the country and traveled far and wide every year. They enjoyed connecting with family whenever they had the chance.
Norman’s passing leaves a big hole in his family’s hearts. Ron and Robbie will remember him, first and foremost, for the love he had for them and his family. They will also remember his willingness to help others, his dedication to his family, his friends, and his job. How he loved to go camping and fishing, and all the trips his family took together. How he had high expectations of them, but also of himself.
Norman will be remembered by his grandkids for sneaking ice cream to them before lunch, for his fancy brown car, his incessant rounds of “…’Round the Corner” and “How Much is that Doggie in the Window”, for drinking coffee that “grows hair on your chest” and for his warning to “never marry a Grandma.” His great grandkids will always remember his enthusiastic greetings, letting them play with his cane, for his silly joke about the dog’s brains, the Good Lord, and trains, and his willingness to listen to stories even if he had no idea what they were saying.
As hard as it is to say goodbye to Norman, we can honestly say that we are better people because of him. He showed us how to love and, for that, we should be so thankful.
Norman is survived by his wife, Alice Marie, with whom he shared nearly 68 years of marriage. He will be forever missed by his children Laurie (Clifton) Freeman, Robbie Marie (Terry) Price, Ronald (Patricia) Graves. His grandchildren Cory (Yvette) Freeman, Jonathan (Andrea) Freeman, Justin (Rachel) Price, Aimee (Luke) Guildner, Kira (Christopher) Jones, Derek (JiaJia) Graves, and Jarod (Rae) Graves. And his great grandchildren KyLeigh and Landon Freeman, Logan and Izabella Freeman, Piper, Adalynn, and Cody Guildner, Bridger and Reagan Price, Derek Jr, Max, and Lydia Graves and Jovina Graves and Kayla Jones.
I love you, Grandpa.