Jean M. (Wharton) Graf, 89, of Tipperary Hill, Syracuse, passed away peacefully at home on June 11, 2021 surrounded by her loving family. Jean was born on June 23, 1931 in Kingston PA to James and Daisy (Moyer) Wharton. Jean grew up in Wilkes-Barre, PA, graduating from Coughlin High School, Class of 1949. She excelled in typing and shorthand, and was an excellent seamstress. Jean was employed as a telephone operator for Bell Telephone in Wilkes-Barre PA, and then in Syracuse, NY, before staying home to raise her “nifty-nine.”
Jean met the love of her life, Len, through writing letters while Len was overseas serving in the Air Force during the Korean War. Len had learned of the death of Jean’s brother through his fellow airman, Jean’s hometown friend, Chuck. Len asked for Jean’s address so he could write her a letter of sympathy, and through that a love affair developed that lasted 7 decades. They were married in Wilkes-Barre, PA in 1953, and lived on Tipp Hill for 68 years, where they were blessed to have a family of 9 children, 21 grandchildren, and 3 great-grandchildren, with 2 more on the way. Jean and Len’s love story and devotion to each other was a wonderful inspiration and example to all who knew them. They were rarely apart, and Jean passed away just 10 days after Len, leaving this world to join Len in Heaven.
Jean was a faithful member of St Patrick's Church, and a recipient of the St Patrick's Heritage Award. Jean embraced the Tipp Hill neighborhood and was proud of her Irish heritage. Jean was a fixture on Tipperary Hill, she was at every event, with a smile for everyone and a camera around her neck. Whether it be at midnight on St. Patrick’s Day at the Painting of the Shamrock, or the Tipp Hill Run, or the St. Patrick’s Irish Fest, Jean was there taking pictures of it all. She made an impact on many people's lives by capturing special moments and events, often printing and sharing the photos with the people in them immediately after.
Jean had endless energy, always being the last to bed and the first to rise. She was an enthusiastic supporter of all her children and grandchildren, eagerly attending games, concerts, plays, and other activities. She was the ultimate hockey mom/grandmother, known for using her homemade noisemakers to cheer on the team.
Jean loved to travel, taking many memorable bus trips and cruises with family and friends through the years, and many trips to the Outer Banks. She and Len loved welcoming friends and relatives to enjoy spending time together with them at their summer home on Sandy Pond. She made sure Len entertained the guests with a boat ride, while she prepared a feast for their return. She had a unique attention to detail, making sure everyone had their special favorite food or drink.
Family was of utmost importance to Jean. “Aunt Jean” was the keeper of the family tree, always updating every new addition, and maintained close connections with her very large extended family. She was a gentle, and generous person who put the needs of others before her own. Thoughtful and caring, Jean always knew that special thing that would make each person happy, and many friends of her children thought of Jean as a second Mom. She was the best example of selfless love we have ever known. Jean was an angel on earth, and we are all so very blessed to have had such an awesome, amazing woman in our lives.
Jean was preceded in death by her beloved husband of 68 years, Leonard, and her 11 siblings: James, John, William, Donald, Thomas, and Gilbert Wharton, Frank, Edward, Eugene and Gladys Degnan, and Katherine Bell.
Jean is survived by her children: Bob (Carole), Linda (Bill) Tripepi, Karen (Tom) Fragola, Jim (Cathy), Marie (Jeffrey) Yousey, John (Alisha), Carl, Laura (Michael) Centore, Len (Sarah) Graf; grandchildren, Greg (Jen) and Jeff (Jenn) Fragola, Dan (Chubing) and Mark (Emily) Tripepi, Jeanine (Matt) Petote, Eric, Steve (Jenna), Lenny (Victoria), and David Graf, Amelia (Jose) Martinez, Madeline, Marge and Emily Yousey, Noah, Andrew, and Sofia Centore, Ethan, Violet, and Elsa and their mom, Val Graf, Simon and Leo Graf; and great-grandchildren, Vincent and Gavin Fragola, and Evan Petote, sisters in law, June Wharton, Joan Degnan, and Virginia Rand, as well as many much loved cousins, nieces, nephews, and friends, including “extra kids” Patri and Serge, and was especially close with her niece, Sue.
Our family would like to express gratitude to the loving caregivers, Hillary and Leah, who have helped us so much, allowing Mom and Dad to spend their final months together at home with family.
Calling hours will be Tuesday, June 15, 2021 from 4–7 pm at Edward J. Ryan and Son Funeral Home, 3180 Bellevue Avenue Syracuse NY 13219. A Funeral Mass in celebration of Jean's life will be held on Wednesday, June 16, 2021 at 10:00 am in St Patrick's Church, 216 N Lowell Ave Syracuse NY 13204. Burial will be at St Agnes Cemetery, Syracuse.
Donations in Jean's memory may be made to St Patrick's-St Brigid's Food Pantry.
Friends and family are invited to a gathering honoring Jean at American Legion, Tipp Hill Post; 1951 West Fayette St. Syracuse, Ny 13204 immediately following the committal at St. Agnes.