Jessie McGraw

Jessie Elise Beaulieu McGraw, 87, formerly of Eagle Point, died Dec. 10, 2010 at a local foster care facility.

She was born Feb. 17, 1923 In Jackson County, Ore. to Deihliss (Minter) Beaulieu and Theodore Edmund Beaulieu. She was salutatorian of the Eagle Point High School class of 1940, graduating at the age of 17. In August of 1940, she and Merle Everett McGraw eloped in Reno. He had given her an engagement ring for graduation. It was a daring adventure, and provided family stories for the rest of their life together.

Two years later their daughter, Lana, was born. Merle followed his dream of earning his wings in the Army Air Corps.

After WWII, the young family settled in Eagle Point. Wendy was born in 1950 and Michael in 1952. Having lost her own mother at the age of 11 months, Jessie set out to be the mother she had always dreamed of having. She valued education most of all and made sure all three children completed college. She realized “life is a never-ending education in itself.”

Jessie served on the board of directors for the Jackson County Civic Music Association (precursor to Community Concerts),and was elected for two three-year terms to the board of directors of the Southern Oregon Historical Society. In addition, she volunteered for school and youth activities.

Always intellectually curious, Jessie took a number of classes. She was a gracious hostess and family holidays on the Eagle Point ranch were legendary.

After the children were grown, Jessie worked  as a medical assist and office help to two doctors, was assistant manager for Merle Norman Cosmetics and was office manager for her husband when he was a lumber wholesaler for Erb Lumber. She took an extensive course in genealogy and researched her family history.

For 17 years Jessie wrote a twice-monthly birding column “On the Wing,” under the pseudonym of H.M. Byrd for the Mail Tribune. She and Merle traveled the United States and Canada doing bird research. The two of them loved ballroom dancing.

Merle died in November 2007. Jessie is survived by her three children, Lana McGraw Boldt,of Ashland, Wendy Lee McGraw of McMinville and Michael Alan McGraw of Seattle, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Per her request, there was no service. Donations may be made to the Southern Oregon Historical Society, 106 N. Central, Medford, OR 97501 in memory of Jessie McGraw. Arrangements by Rogue Valley Funeral Alternatives.

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