Donna Mary Wendel Graves was born on December 19,1931. She was the only child of Harold and Bula Wendel of Lockport, NY. She spent her childhood in this historic Erie Canal birthplace and went on to attend Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva, NY. She became a kindergarten teacher until she met and married her dashing Army captain, Francis P. Graves, Jr. in 1957.
Their adventurous life took them to Panama, Mexico, and Canada, during which they had four children. They eventually settled in St. Paul, MN until retirement. Donna’s greatest passions were her family, church membership at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, and volunteering at a Pro-life clinic where she was an advocate for mothers and their babies. She also enjoyed cooking, antiquing, and traveling with Francis. As avid sailors, they chose to build a home in Bayfield, WI. They fully enjoyed life in a small town, even starting a business: Bayfield Ace Hardware. Zion Lutheran Church of Ashland became their spiritual home.
Donna remained in her home, enjoying her panoramic view of beautiful Lake Superior, until she needed the assistance of Birch Haven Senior Living. In her last two and half years she was well cared for and enjoyed frequent visits and outings with family and friends. She often attended Faith Baptist Church in Bayfield.
Donna is survived by daughter Jane Mix (Larry), and sons Thomas Graves (Amy), Peter Graves, and Francis ‘Pancho’ Graves III (Rachel). She also leaves behind 13 grandchildren: Andrew Graves, Evan Mix (Simone), Katharine Mix Rose (Matthew), Peter Graves, Zachary Graves, Sarah Mix, David Mix, Matthew Herriott, T.J. Graves, Jacob Graves, Lizzie Herriott, Daniel Graves, and Henry Graves and three great-grandchildren: Ezra, Simon, and Judah Rose.
Donna’s kindness and generosity touched all who knew her. Her legacy of faith and grace live on. She is preceded in death by her parents and her husband, Francis “Frank” Graves.
Following a private funeral service on October 9th, a 2:30 pm burial service is planned at the Greenwood Cemetery of Bayfield. All are welcome. Social distancing will be observed. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts can be directed to Chequamegon Pregnancy Center or Birch Haven Senior Living in Ashland.
Arrangements by Bratley Funeral Home of Washburn, bratleyfamilyfuneralhome.com.