Oakdale senior advocate and volunteer Patricia Ann ‘Pat’ Graham, 86, died in Oakdale on Tuesday, Aug. 30, two weeks short of her 87th birthday.
“She was really the mayor of Oakdale,” said Oakdale Mayor Pat Paul. “When she summoned you, you appeared. And she gave you a little teeny list, a small piece of paper in very small print (written) in pencil, and she told you your marching orders.”
She was born an only child to Samuel Kyle Carlin and Ann Agnes Corrigan in Winegar (Presque Isle), Wisconsin. After her father’s death in 1933, young Pat made the first of her many long automobile trips, coming to California with her mother. In 1936 they returned to Wisconsin, where she graduated from De Padua High School in Ashland. They returned permanently to California in 1943. She worked with Lockheed Aircraft and the Department of the Navy until the end of World War II, then found employment as a medical secretary at the Veterans Hospital in San Fernando. There she met William M. Graham, whom she married in 1948.
After her husband graduated from California Polytechnic College in San Luis Obispo in 1956, he began working for the Stanislaus County Department of Agriculture and the couple moved to Oakdale.
Mrs. Graham soon enrolled at Modesto Junior College, then at the newly-opened Stanislaus State College. She received her B.A. in 1966 and her teaching credential in 1967. In 1968 she was the first faculty member hired at the new Riverbank High School, where she taught English for 13 years and also served as Chair of the English department until her retirement in 1981. She took special interest in encouraging students whose potential others did not recognize.
Graham took an active part in her community from the start, beginning with the PTA and Newcomers’ Club. In the mid-1960s, she joined others to found the Oakdale Friends of the Library. She joined the American Association of University Women, Community Sharing, the Oakdale Women’s Club, Mater Christi chapter of the Young Ladies Institute, and the Oak Valley Hospital Auxiliary. She served on the first Parish Council at St Mary’s Catholic Church and the first Diocesan Pastoral Council of the Diocese of Stockton. She was a member of the Election Board for 13 years and of the Oakdale Museum Advisory Commission.
“I never limited my socialization to one group of people,” Graham said in an interview with The Leader in January of this year. “And I don’t hesitate to call someone up for help. If you’ve enjoyed doing things in the community don’t hesitate to encourage people to get involved.”
In 1984 Graham helped start English For All, an English as a Second Language program under the auspices of the Stanislaus Literacy Council. In 1986 she and Billie Benedix co-founded St Mary’s Seniors and Friends, whose monthly newsletter she edited for 20 years. Her 12-year tenure as a member of the City of Oakdale Senior Advisory Commission began in 1996. When the Oakdale Senior Citizens Foundation was established, Graham became a charter member and served as Chair for two years. She was also a member of the Oakdale Senior Forum, affiliated with the Stanislaus Elder Abuse Prevention Alliance. Her final project was the Oakdale Community Aquatic Therapy Foundation.
“Because of her I joined the American University Women, I work with the adult literacy group, I’m a friend of the library, and the list goes on and on,” Mayor Paul added. “She absolutely had no tolerance for someone that did not volunteer and she encouraged all of us to step up. She was a great role model and her spirit will live on.”
For fun, Graham kept in touch with family and friends all over the U.S. She made many long-distance drives, planning her routes to include visits from Florida to Alaska. She was proud of having driven in all 50 states. Her final big trip was a European river cruise from Budapest to Amsterdam in 2007.
Graham received many awards and certificates of recognition for her numerous contributions to her community. Among the most memorable were nomination as Stanislaus County Woman of the Year in 2002, presentation of the papal medal “Benemerenti” from Pope Benedict XVI in 2007, and selection for the 2010 Oakdale Chamber of Commerce Lifetime Achievement Award in January 2011.
Mrs. Graham’s family thanked the dedicated caregivers in the 300 Wing at Oak Valley Hospital, to Dr. Andres and Imelda Arellano, and to Dr. Leslie and Margaret Konkin.
She is survived by her children, Rev. James K. Graham of San Jose, Robert C. Graham of Riverside, Jean A. Graham of Twentynine Palms, and Barbara J. Green of San Jose; daughter-in-law, Katherine Kendrick Graham; and granddaughters Nora and Laina Graham.
Funeral services were celebrated at St Mary’s Catholic Church on Sept. 2. Burial was in Oak Grove Cemetery, Knights Ferry. In lieu of flowers, remembrances may be made to Oakdale Community Sharing, P.O. Box 1160, Oakdale, CA 95361; or to the Oakdale Senior Citizens Foundation, c/o Linda Royalty, Gladys Lemmons Senior Center, 450 East A St., Oakdale, CA 95361.
Oakdale Memorial Chapel handled arrangements.