Phyllis I. Graves

April 19, 1929October 14, 2020

Phyllis Irene (Thompson) Graves

Legally blind, with dementia in an assisted living facility was tough enough over the past three years. It was the love and touch of her family that kept her going. When the coronavirus pandemic hit in March, the separation from her loved ones made life unbearable for her. After six long months, she lost all hope and died of a broken heart on October 14, 2020.

She was born April 19, 1929 at her grandparents' home at 1516 S. Main Street, Wichita, KS. The daughter of Rachel Adella Wilson and James Malcolm Thompson Sr. She started working at a young age in their family owned cafe' which was next door to the service station her father owned and operated at 13th & Bitting in Wichita. She attended public school in Wichita, graduating from Wichita North High School in 1947. She met Donald Graves, her future husband, at a watermelon feed in 1944. They married December 26, 1950. She graduated from Estelle Compton Modeling School in April 1949 but only had one job before deciding that career was not for her. Besides, her small stature of 5 feet 1 and 3/4 inches did not exactly make her runway material! In 1947, she went to work for Southwestern Bell Telephone Company as an operator. She also sold Avon door-to-door and worked at Henry's. After raising four children, she went back to work in 1979, briefly at a child daycare facility and then as a paraprofessional for Wichita USD 259 at both Wilbur Junior High School and Northwest High School. She retired in 1987.

Family summer vacations were spent at various lakes camping, boating, and fishing. During that time, she and Don fell in love with Beaver Lake in NW Arkansas. Upon retirement, they moved to Garfield, Arkansas and built their retirement home on Beaver Lake at Lost Bridge Village. There they stayed for about 12 years before returning to Wichita due to Don's health. She was an accomplished seamstress making a lot of her own clothing as well as clothing for her children including coats, swimsuits, wedding, and bridesmaid dresses as well as many doll clothes. Upon retirement, she found a new love in quilting. She perfected her craft beautifully selling some of her creations and earning blue ribbons at the county fair, but mostly just for her own enjoyment and for giving to family and friends. She dabbled in all types of arts and crafts and was a perfectionist at all she touched.

She was small and quiet with a sharp, sarcastic wit and an unfailing stubbornness. She preferred the background to the limelight. She will be greatly missed by all who knew and loved her. She was preceded in death by her parents; brothers James Malcolm Thompson Jr., Bill Thompson and Robert Elton Thompson Sr., husband of 58 years, Donald Earl Graves, and great grandson Tristan Burchett. She is survived by two sisters-in-law, Barbara Thompson of Rogers, AR and Gerry Thompson of Wichita, KS; her daughters Gay James, Michele (Bud) Wade and Debbie (John) Potts; her son Kevin (Karen) Graves, all of Wichita, KS; her grandchildren Cheyenne Teague, Kelly Birdwell, Rich (Mandy) Birdwell, Shelby (Russ) Lowen, Jaime Kondo, Terence Graves, Micah Graves, Josh Graves, Cody (Shannon) Potts; 16 great grandchildren and 1 great-great grandson.

A special thank you to Always There Senior Care for their compassion and support over the past 5 years.

Visitation will be 10:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m. on Wednesday, October 21, 2020 and a celebration of Phyllis's life will be held at 1:00 p.m. Wednesday, October 21, 2020, both at Hillside Funeral Home West, 2929 W. 13th St. N., Wichita, KS. Masks are required as well as social distancing. Burial will follow at White Chapel Memorial Gardens.

A memorial has been established with Envision Foundation, P.O. Box 131, Wichita, KS 67201.


  • Kevin (Karen) Graves, Son
  • Debbie (John) Potts, Daughter
  • Michele (Bud) Wade, Daughter
  • Gay James, Daughter
  • 9, Grandchildren
  • 16, Great-grandchildren
  • 1, Great-Great-Grandchild

Learn more about the Graves name


  • Rich Birdwell
  • Terence Graves
  • Micah Graves
  • Josh Graves
  • Cody Potts
  • Peyton Kondo

  • Envision Foundation


21 October


10:00 am - 12:30 pm

Hillside Funeral Home West

2929 West 13th Street North
Wichita, KS 67203

21 October

Funeral Service

1:00 pm

Hillside Funeral Home West

2929 West 13th Street North
Wichita, KS 67203


Phyllis I. Graves

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Learn more about the Graves name