Obituary of Sergeant Joseph Lewis Graves
Joseph Lewis Graves was born in Cochran, VA in 1923, the son of Lewis and
Cordelia Graves. He passed away on Wednesday, July 25, 2018 at Overlook
Hospital in Summit, NJ. Joseph was one of ten children, Richard, Harry, James,
Howard, George, Jesse, Tommy , Shirley and Velma.
Joseph spent his youth in VA and was denied the opportunity to pursue his
education. He was enlisted in the Army in 1943 as part of the 52 nd Quartermaster
Corp and participated in World War II, the invasion of Normandy in 1944. He served
through the campaigns in France, the Low Countries, and into Germany having
achieved the rank of Master Sergeant. Joseph was awarded the Victory Medal,
European-African Middle Eastern Ribbon and Good Conduct Medal.
Upon returning to the United States he moved to Scotch Plains, NJ where he met his
wife Helen Tucker. They were married 56 years before her passing on, December
21, 2007. From this union Joseph and Helen had four children.
Joseph spent most of his career as an employee of the J.S. Irving Lumber Company
(formerly located next to the Westfield circle on South Ave.) J.S. Irving saw three
generations of the Graves family (father Lewis, Joseph, and son Joseph Jr. as
summer work). After J.S. Irving went out of business he worked for the Town of
Westfield and Tiffany Natural Drug Store.
While denied education himself, Joseph’s children went on to pioneering careers.
Dr. Warren Graves MD (deceased) was the first African American board-certified
radiologist in the state of CA; Dr. Joseph L Graves Jr is the first African American
awarded a PhD in the field of evolutionary biology, and Ms. Alice Small, has had a
long successful career in sales and earned her Business Administration
baccalaureate degree, Summa Cum Laude earlier this year.
Joseph was preceded in death by his parents Lewis and Cordelia Graves; son Dr.
Warren Graves MD; grandson, Albert III; siblings, Richard, Harry, Howard, George,
Tommy, and Velma.
His surviving children are Ms. Alice Small of West Windsor, NJ; Dr. Joseph Lewis
Graves Jr. (Sue), of Greensboro, NC; and Marilyn Harris (Hussan) of Plainfield, NJ;
grandchildren, Rhonda Waller and Shyrene Small of Baltimore, Md, Ashley Graves
of Altanta, GA, Joseph III and Xavier Graves of NC, Jeshua of Plainfield, NJ; great-
grands, Devin Waller, Alexis Waller and Amaya McIver of Baltimore, MD, Makayla
and Warren of Atlanta GA; surviving siblings, James Graves and Shirley Johnson of
Scotch Plains, NJ and Jesse Graves of Miramar, FL; and a host of nieces and
nephews, and his “Special Porch Comrades”, Hardy, and Gill.