WWII Vet with No Living Relatives Honored at Funeral Thanks to Devoted Nursing Home Volunteer
A World War II veteran named Bob Graham was laid to rest on April 26 in a funeral service fit for a hero, thanks to the efforts of 27-year-old Beth Regan, who was concerned that nobody would attend his funeral.
Graham, a highly decorated veteran Marine, died on April 12 at age 97, with no living relatives. His wife of more than 60 years, Rosie, passed away two years ago.
According to Stars and Stripes, Graham earned Bronze and Silver stars after his time in the Pacific, “where he fought at Guadalcanal and Bougainville as a member of the elite Marine Raiders.”
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The funeral will be held at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church. Please contact @beemerry01 with any questions.
Graham met Regan about four years ago when she started volunteering at his nursing home.
Graham’s wife was still alive at the time, and Regan recalled how the pair shared a deep love for one another.
Bob Graham, a veteran who earned Bronze and Silver stars for his service in the Pacific, died April 12 at the age of 97. His death would likely have gone unnoticed if not for Beth Regan, who befriended Graham while volunteering at his nursing home. https://t.co/fhqva14DxQ
— Stars and Stripes (@starsandstripes) April 25, 2019
“He would always have his chair next to her wheel chair so he could hold her hand,” Regan said.
Rosie’s death was a blow to Graham, who was consumed with grief to the point that Regan feared he would soon pass, too.
Attended the Funeral for Bob Graham in Shrub Oak NY today. US Marine WWll vet. RIP?? pic.twitter.com/FtKgt6vzF2
— Tony Morelli (@pookiee0758) April 26, 2019
When Graham did pass, Regan became concerned that nobody would come to the war hero’s funeral since Graham had no living family members.
She turned to social media to invite people in the area to attend, and was stunned when the community responded with their full support.
Graham’s funeral, held on the morning of April 26, was packed out with fellow veterans and community members who never knew Graham, yet wanted to honor his service to America.
Local firefighters lined the streets and flew a large American flag during the funeral procession. Members from the Patriot Guard Riders placed a line of flags at the cemetery site in the Bronx.
NYPD officers carry the casket of WWII vet Bob Graham to his funeralat St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Shrub Oak. With no close relatives, Beth Regan, 27, who befriended Graham while volunteering at the nursing home he lived, got the word out to have his funeral well attended. pic.twitter.com/7x3koQiGhG
— Tania Savayan (@TaniaSavayan) April 26, 2019
“I just wanted to make sure people would attend,” Regan said.
Graham, she said, would not have understood why people were making such a fuss over his life and death.
“He’d be floored,” Regan said. “He wouldn’t understand why so many people are out there celebrating him.”
Photographer @TaniaSavayan is shooting the funeral for World War II Marine Veteran Bob Graham at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Shrub Oak. Check back to @lohud shortly for story and photos and video. pic.twitter.com/9rX8meCEO0
— Carrie Yale (@carrieyale) April 26, 2019
“He never wanted to talk about his time in the war because he thought he was bragging,” she said. “‘Why are you doing this?’ he’d say. ‘I’m not a big deal.'”
But as the American flags waved in Graham’s honor, those who attended his funeral would likely agree that Graham’s sacrifice was, on the contrary, a big deal.
Regan has since moved to North Carolina for work, but traveled back to New York to be at the funeral. The American flag, typically given to the veteran’s family, was instead presented to her.
“He would call me his angel,” Regan said of her friend. “It was just a very special connection.”
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