July 10, 1934 – November 2, 2021
Charlene Morton Graham entered the presence of her Lord, Jesus Christ, about Noon on Tuesday, November 2, 2021, at Baylor Scott White hospital in Plano, Texas, when her sweet and tender heart simply gave out after 87 years of life.
She was born July 10, 1934, in Kansas City, Missouri, the first of five children for Charles Edwards Morton and Theodosia Summers Morton. She is likely pleased that her death occurred on the same day as her mother 35 years earlier.
During World War II at age 8, her family moved from Kansas City to Houston, Texas, where she accepted Christ as her Savior at age 10. Not long after the move however, Charlene lost her baby brother, Roger...a tragedy that impacted the family's early years in a new home in a new state so far from relatives and friends. But after growing into a cute, articulate, ever so friendly, feisty teenager, Charlene graduated from Stephen F. Austin HS in 1952 and enrolled that fall at Baylor University in Waco. Barely two months into her freshman year, a mutual friend introduced Charlene to Gordon Graham from Dallas, to whom she became engaged early in 1953. Both sets of parents discouraged a college wedding, not due to their choice of spouses, but because they knew how tough it would be for two "kids" to have an enduring marriage. Both Charlene and Gordon were only 19 years old, but they persevered and saved $1000 between them (a tough goal in 1953), the requirement stipulated by the parents. On November 27, 1953, they were married in Houston. Many guests at the wedding likely thought that such an early marriage would never stand the test of time .... but boy, were they wrong! The couple would have marked 68 years of marriage on November 27.
Their first child, Sharon, was born in September, 1954, in Waco, and this at a time when there were few married couples in college and even fewer with children. Charlene tried to balance her college classes with motherhood, and that slowed her progress toward a degree in Education. She had completed less than three years of study when Gordon graduated and was called quickly into the Air Force. Their first 8 years of marriage involved numerous moves back and forth across the country: From Texas to California to Florida, back to Texas, on to West Virginia, Ohio, then San Antonio, and finally to Dallas.
Two more children followed along the way, Karen in '59, and Bruce in '63, but when all were in school, Charlene rededicated herself to her goal of becoming a teacher. With several others, she carpooled to Denton for night courses at TWU and received her undergraduate degree at age 40. She taught learning disabled children in the Richardson school district for 8 years, while also getting a masters degree from UT-Dallas.
But all this information doesn't let you know the heart of Charlene Graham. Her faith in Christ was always at the forefront of her motives, love, counsel, and support of her husband, as well as ways to nurture and encourage children ... her own and others. Her son and two daughters are avid readers, largely because Charlene read so many books to them while encouraging them to read on their own. Beyond her home, Charlene mentored countless young women, wives and mothers according to scripture's admonition for older women to mentor younger ones according to the Bible's instruction on relationships, marriage, abortion, children, and much more. For these and others who were just friends, she became something of a pseudo mother. Her knowledge and use of scripture allowed her to lead devotionals when asked, as with the "Morton Sisterhood," a unique gathering of some 29 female descendants and inlaws of Ed & Theodosia Morton. Charlene may have originated the phrase, "People Person." Within 15 minutes of meeting you, she would glean many of your personal facts about family, occupation, interests, and most importantly, how you stand with Jesus Christ. She sat by the bedside of a dying friend and was on hand to help another with a home birth. For 25 years, Charlene was the sweet hostess for so many guests at her summer Colorado home. She loved deeply and defended fiercely. In return, Charlene was and is treasured by her husband and almost a countless host of relatives and friends. She will be sorely missed.
Charlene is survived by her husband, Gordon, sister Diane Kleypas and husband Jim of San Antonio, sister Marilyn Cluck and husband Bob of Abilene, brother Jim Morton and wife Pat of Waco, daughter Sharon Lathrop and husband Phil of Richardson, daughter Karen Walthall of Crosby, Texas, son Bruce Graham and wife Linda of Dallas, grandson Graham Lathrop and wife Erika of Menlo Park, CA, granddaughter Charlotte Mims and husband Kevin of Dallas, grandson Dustin Walthall and wife Jenni of Bedford, grandson Alex Walthall and wife Brittany of Little Elm, granddaughter Krysta Trippel and husband Elliott of Houston, granddaughters Shannon, Kristen, and Julia Graham of Dallas, great grandchildren Connor, Lauren, and Ryan Mims, Nathan, Haddie, and Taylor Walthall, Theodora Lathrop, Owen James Trippel.
Charlene's memorial service will be November 26th at 11:00 AM at Community Bible Chapel, Richardson, TX. It will also be live streamed (Go to U-Tube and search for Community Bible Chapel).
In lieu of flowers, please send a donation to the Both Ends Believing ministry: Bebglobal.org