Betty Ann Haltom Graves, 86, Vero Beach
Betty Ann Haltom Graves, 86, of Vero Beach, peacefully entered Heaven, surrounded by her loving family, on the morning of Aug. 3, 2019, at Hospice House in Vero Beach. Betty was born in Texarkana, Texas, on Dec. 20, 1932, to Sydna Henson Haltom and Odes Harold Haltom.
Betty graduated as Valedictorian from Arkansas High School in 1949. She received a scholarship to attend college and completed two years before making the difficult decision to begin a career in order to help her family.
She was the personal assistant to the manager of Lone Star Defense Plant until resigning in order to marry and move away.
Betty was introduced to her husband, Jim, by his mother, in March of 1953. They knew very quickly that each had found their soulmate and were married on Oct. 17, 1953.
Married life began with a move to Louisville, Ky., for Jim to attend Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Betty had a long and rich history as a helpmate to Jim in each of their churches. While dating, Betty served beside him at Moss Springs Baptist Church in Texas.
After marriage, as Jim attended seminary, she loyally supported his work at New Bethel Baptist Church, travelling each weekend to this wonderful community who loved them so well. Following seminary, they served churches in Abilene, Texas; Leesburg, Vero Beach, and St. Petersburg, Fla.
As a minister’s wife, Betty was an integral part of each church serving as WMU president, Sunday School teacher for both children and adults, Vacation Bible School teacher and Training Union teacher, among other leadership roles.
As an accomplished pianist, Betty often played the piano in church as well. She was always Jim’s partner in life as well as ministry and their marriage was a true love story.
Betty could have done many things, but she chose to be a homemaker and to raise their children with love and patience.
Betty served her community as well, volunteering in each of the children’s schools and as President of Women of Rotary in St. Petersburg, Fla.
She supported Jim faithfully through his various convention roles, serving as President of the Florida Baptist Convention Ministers’ Wives and President of the Southern Baptist Convention Ministers’ Wives.
Betty faced this last year and a half with great courage as she dealt with lymphoma. Even though struggles with her heart ultimately took her from us, she leaves behind a rich legacy of unending faith in God, selfless love of family and dedicated devotion to serving others.
Betty joyfully and fearlessly entered her eternal home, with this song on her lips “What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.”
She will be missed by everyone who had the privilege of knowing her.
Betty is survived by her loving and devoted husband of 66 years, James “Jim” Franklin Graves. She also leaves behind her adoring children, Debbie (Mark) Hawk, Becky (Jim) Osborn, Joe (Carole) Graves; 10 grandchildren, Matthew (Jessica) Hawk, Meredith Osborn, Jason (Laura) Hawk, Megan (Will) Osborn Wolf, Kelly Hawk, Emily (Dustin) Graves Denham, Jimmy (Emily) Osborn, Sara Graves, Sophia Graves and Rachel Graves; seven great-grandchildren, Logan, Landon, Layton and Lucas Hawk, Averi Hawk and Lennon and Felicity Wolf; brothers, John (Ann) Haltom and Odes (Linda) Haltom; and many nieces and nephews.
In addition to her parents, she is predeceased by her infant son, James Franklin Graves, Jr.; and her beloved grandson, James Franklin Graves, II.
Friends are invited to attend services at First Baptist Church of Vero Beach, on Saturday, Aug. 10, at 2 p.m.
Following the service, there will be a reception in the church fellowship hall in order to greet family members.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Betty Graves Grant in care of the Jimmy Graves Foundation 501 (C) 3, soon to become the Graves Family Foundation,3885 20th Street, Vero Beach, FL 32960.