Mary C. Graham

    Mary Cresence Graham, 82, of Decatur, went home to be with the Lord on Monday, June 22, 2020, at Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo, after a brief illness.
    Mary was born on February 6, 1938, in Paw Paw,  on the Mihelich farm behind the Coca-Cola Company. She was raised by her parents, Henry and Margaret (Mihelich) Abshagen.
    Mary graduated from Decatur High School in 1956 and on September 8, 1957, she married the love of her life, Donald Paul Graham.
    For many years, Mary was well known for her delicious cooking, including homemade apple pies and authentic pasties, for which her recipe was an original from her Mother, from the copper mining days in the upper peninsula of Michigan, specifically the Calumet area. Mary was also famous for her wonderful cakes; thousands of them were baked and decorated, including sheet cakes, doll cakes and 3- and 4-tier wedding cakes.  At several times, she would have ovens going at three separate houses.
    For over 10 years, Mary  worked as a bus driver, secretary and Transportation Director for the Decatur Public School System. She then went to work for the Van Buren County, first starting in the Treasurer’s Office, and then becoming a 911 dispatcher. There, she helped thousands of people, including being instrumental in saving the life of a police officer.                 While working at the Sheriff’s Office, she  graduated into becoming an Officer in Corrections and shined in that position for another 22 years, including being a trainer.
    Before permanent retirement, she had returned to the Sheriff’s Department for an additional seven years as the lobby receptionist, with a variety of tasks. She took her work very serious and was a faithful and dedicated employee. She always believed in what was right and just, and lived the meaning of integrity.
    While working in Corrections, she had earned the nickname ‘Mother Mary,’ from many of the inmates and co-workers, showing their respect for her position as a C.O.  She would of-ten see in-mates after incarceration and greet them with a smile and the best of wishes, in hopes of a great future for them.
    In earlier days, Mary enjoyed playing bingo, sometimes several nights a week. She played a staggering 55 bingo cards at a time and would help others around her with their numbers. She loved playing cards with friends on the weekends and she loved the LOTTO. She would often play numbers that were special to her, including birthdates and house numbers, often being very lucky.
    She loved deer hunting with Don in the evenings, which consisted of a car ride in the country through De-catur and Lawrence Town-ships, watching for deer and counting them.
    Mary was very social and enjoyed her trips to McDonald’s for morning coffee. She loved making her rounds to her favorite places and local businesses, including Hard Times Restaurant, Lutz’s Drive-In, and more recently ‘The Rock.’ She loved the sunshine, warm weather, flowers, pets and critters.  She walked barefoot at every chance in Don’s beautifully manicured lawn at their home in Decatur.
    Mary was a proud member of the Holy Family Catholic Church in Decatur. She knew the Lord as her personal savior and believed in the aspects of many religions and will forever be a Chris-tian. She relied heavily on prayer and learned to have a great trust in the Lord.
    Mary would take care of all around her and anyone in need, often putting herself second. When talking with anyone who was feeling down or in sorrow, she would always say ‘this too shall pass.’  She taught how to love and most importantly, how to forgive. Mary’s smile, her laughter, her warm touch, her kind heart, her caring personality, along with her heart of gold, was a beacon in this world. Mary prayed for peace with the world’s concerns.
    As of recent, Mary enjoyed relaxing and being with Don during their retirement. Also, Mary would often speak of how truly blessed she and Don were for having such great neighbors throughout the years.
    But most of all, Mary’s greatest love was her family. She loved her parents and her brothers, her husband, her kids, grandkids and great grandkids. While not knowing the angels would come on Monday, Mary was sure on Sunday to speak with all of her kids and to tell them that she loved them.
    Mary will be greatly missed by family and all that knew her.
    Mary is survived by her loving husband of 63 years, Donald; children, Michael (Susan) Graham of Hartford, MI,  Diana (Bryan) Stump of Paw Paw, and Mark (Rhonda) Graham of Paw Paw; six grandchildren; 10 great-grandchildren; brothers, Edward (Linda) Abshagen, Glenn (Diane) Abshagen, and James Abshagen; and many cherished nieces and nephews across the country. Mary is also survived by many great and loyal friends and co-workers that she proudly called family.
    Mary was preceded in death by her parents, Henry and Margaret Abshagen. Family wishes to thank all for the tremendous outpouring of cards, phone calls and prayers throughout this difficult time. Mary’s wishes would be for all to love, forgive, smile or hug someone just because they may need it, phone or e-mail a friend or family member that you’ve been meaning to contact but just haven’t found the time, and let  those nearest and dearest to you know how much you love them and how important they are to you!
    Arrangements have been entrusted to Newell Chapel & Cremation Services. A private service with immediate family has taken place. Interment will be at Lakeside Cemetery in Decatur, at a later date.  Memorial contributions may be made to the American Heart Association - West Michigan, 3940 Peninsular Drive SE, Suite 180, Grand Rapids, MI 49546; .
    Those wishing to leave an online condolence may do so at


The Courier-Leader & Paw Paw Flashes

The Courier-Leader & Paw Paw Flashes
32280 E. Red Arrow Hwy. • P.O. Box 129
Paw Paw, MI 49079
(269) 657-5080

Email Us

Facebook Pinterest