Our youngest sister, Yolanda Lea Graham, passed away August 24, 2023, at Welch Community Hospital surrounded by the hugs and tears of her family. She was known to her family as Londie and most especially Aunt Londie.
Yolanda was born the eighth child of Willard and Helen Graham on June 29, 1953, in Pineville, WV. She grew up as a cute little blond-headed girl attending Wyoming Grade School before she graduated from Pineville High School in 1971. She received her BA and teaching certificate from Marshall University. Her career began as a kindergarten teacher in 1975 at Huff Consolidated Elementary School. We all remember that on the last day of her first year of teaching five of her little students showed up with their PJs in a bag and went home with Ms. Graham for a few days. They loved her, and she loved them. She continued her career teaching at Pineville Elementary until her death. She died on what would have been her first day of the school year. Ms. Graham loved teaching and loved her students. She always attended the high school graduations to see many of her kindergarten students graduate. They would often spot her in the crowd and wave as they marched by.
Although she never married or had children of her own, Aunt Londie mothered and mentored her numerous nieces and nephews, many of whom were also her students. She watched over them, gave them advice, gifts and the benefit of her experience and love. Even on her grumpy days, they all knew they had loving, caring aunt they could depend on for anything. Her love of crafting provided us all with beautiful handmade birthday and Christmas gifts. One of her last projects was turning 225 orange trick or treat pumpkin baskets into beautiful Fall and Christmas ornaments. Amazing.
Yolanda was preceded in passing by her parents, Willard and Helen Graham, her brother Willard Graham Jr., her oldest sister Betty Asbury, brothers in law Paul McNair and Robert Asbury, sister-in-law Tracey Graham, nephews, David Laxton, Drew Riling, Bo Mikles, and niece Heather Asbury.
Her surviving sisters are Frances Mikles and her husband Ernie of Fairmont, Barbara Laxton and her husband, Eddie of Key Rock, Beverly Riling and her husband, Andy of Wyoming, and Judy McNair of Wyoming. Her brother Patrick Graham of Glade Springs. The first generation of nieces and nephews consist of Dee, Candance, Nerissa, Heather, Chantel, Bo, Kelly, Tracey, Scott, Mike, Matthew, David, Brell, Drew, Christopher, Valerie, Pat Boy, Lana, Steven, Lori, Lukacs and Mary Catherine. She had forty great nieces and nephews and her great-great nieces and nephews totaled ten at last count. Also included in her family count and growing up with us, are the eighth and ninth Grahams, Carol Stewart and Phyllis New. Her fur babies, Ellie and Hector will sadly miss her too.
We have made no attempt to name her best friends because virtually every friend and fellow teacher she had over the years referred to her as their best friend. Thank you, Ms. Graham, Thank you, Londie, Thank you, Aunt Londie for all you have added to our lives.