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Lifestyle & Human Interest

WWII Vet with No Living Relatives Honored at Funeral Thanks to Devoted Nursing Home Volunteer

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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.

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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.

“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.

When Graham did pass, Regan became concerned that nobody would come to the war hero’s funeral since Graham had no living family members.

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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.

“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.”

“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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A graduate of Grand Canyon University, Kim Davis has been writing for The Western Journal since 2015, focusing on lifestyle stories.
Kim Davis began writing for The Western Journal in 2015. Her primary topics cover family, faith, and women. She has experience as a copy editor for the online publication Thoughtful Women. Kim worked as an arts administrator for The Phoenix Symphony, writing music education curriculum and leading community engagement programs throughout the region. She holds a degree in music education from Grand Canyon University with a minor in eating tacos.
Birthplace
Page, Arizona
Education
Bachelor of Science in Music Education
Location
Phoenix, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English
Topics of Expertise
Lifestyle & Human Interest




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