Jean Nelson Graham
Jean Nelson Graham, lovingly referred to by our family as Gigi, née Jean Crawford Nelson, was born in Parkersburg, West Virginia, the daughter of the late Arta Lellen Nelson and Mary Gertrude Crawford on Dec. 24, 1921. Growing up, Jean enjoyed annual vacations with her family to Atlantic City, New Jersey. As hobbies, Jean rode horses and practiced riflery. She graduated from Parkersburg High School and Mountain State Business College.
Jean worked as an Executive Secretary, reporting to various members of upper management for 12 years at American Viscose (AM), coordinating work for the offices in Parkersburg and Philadelphia. During this time, Jean traveled to New York City with her cousin Teddy Wetzel to listen to Ray Wetzel, trumpeter for Woody Herman, Tommy Dorsey and Stan Kenton, among other famous musical artists. While at AM, she met her husband, Louis (Lou) Atkins Graham. They were married on June 18, 1955. After their daughter was born the following year, Jean and Lou relocated with AM to the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania area. There, the young family took advantage of all the Northeast metropolitan areas had to offer and began to travel internationally with Lou’s work.
In 1968, the family moved to Greensboro, North Carolina with Burlington Industries. Jean and Lou loved living between the mountains and the beaches and spent much time on the Blue Ridge Parkway and Holden Beach with extended family members. Jean took an active role in the First Presbyterian Church there, and was asked to speak at numerous club meetings. A true and sincere friend to all, Jean and Lou developed life-long friendships with people in Greensboro and around the world. They also continued their adventurous travels together, culminating in 3-month assignments in Zimbabwe, Africa and Mauritius with the IESC (International Executive Service Corps.
In 1998, Jean and Lou moved to Temple, Texas, to be closer to their daughter, son-in-law, and two grandchildren. Having met many folks there in earlier visits, they were welcomed with open arms. A joyous new chapter in their lives began, filled with time spent with the “kids” and grandkids, wonderful, loyal friends and travel about the state. Jean was an active member at Grace Presbyterian Church, Arno Art, The Contemporaries of the CAC, The Temple Wine Club, a local “wine” club and loved playing bridge with various groups.
Jean was preceded in death by her sisters, Mary Nelson and Clara Elizabeth (Betty) Nelson Van Nest; brother-in-law, Arthur (Fritz) Van Nest; a brother, William Clark Nelson and sister-in-law, Lee Willingham Nelson.
Surviving are her husband of 64 years, Lou, formerly of Farmville; her daughter, Natalie Jean Graham Hinkle and her husband, Charles Edward Hinkle, also of Temple, Texas and two grandchildren, Frances Elizabeth Hinkle of Fort Collins, Colorado, and Louis Edward Hinkle of Houston, Texas.
The family would like to express their thanks to all their absolutely wonderful circle of close friends, the numerous devoted caregivers over the years from Tender Mercies, the staff at the Temple Meridien who cared for her in 2017 and supported her while caring for Lou, and also various attentive, caring and supportive staff members on the 3rd floor in the STC and the Palliative Care unit at BSW, as well as the compassionate staff at Scanio-Harper Funeral Home in and Grace Presbyterian Church.
Jean’s final resting place will be with the Graham family in Farmville. A Celebration of Life is being planned for Saturday, October 19, at 11 a.m., at Grace Presbyterian Church. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to a charity of your choice or one of those that Jean supported: Texas Scottish Rite Children’s Hospital in Dallas, Grace Presbyterian Church, Easter Seals, Southwest Indian Foundation or the Salvation Army.