On July 11, 1988, twenty-four years ago today, Willard Pershing Graber, my step-great grandfather passed away in Westminster, Westminster Co., California at the age of 69.
Willard was born in 1918 in Cooperstown, Griggs Co., North Dakota, the son of Kit Carson Graber (1875-1962) and Iva Mae McKeehan (1879-1950). He married my paternal great grandmother, Alice Lucretia Wellin in 1947 in Portland, Multnomah Co., Oregon. After which, they had two daughters, Sharolyn Iva Graber (1948-1970) and Marla Jean Graber (1952-2007), half-sisters to my paternal grandmother. Before his marriage to Alice, he had been married to Mae Houser (1923-1989), with whom he had one child before their divorce, Roger Victor Graber-Hayes (1942-1997). After Alice’s death in 1985, Willard married for a third time, to Dorothy (Prescher) Hastings (1926-2010).
Willard was buried in Westminster Memorial Park in Westminster, California, next to Alice. His headstone is a military headstone, as he served in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II.
Although Willard has “no direct relationship” to me, I knew him as my great grandfather (actually “Grandpa Graber”), and I remember him fondly. He would always tell me “tall tales” from American folklore (like the one about Paul Bunyan and his blue ox, Babe), when I wandered away from where us kids were supposed to be playing and found my way to the bar area in my grandparents house during their Christmas parties. I suppose he told me these stories because I believed every word of them.