Henri Elizabeth Graves

Henri Elizabeth Graves was a bright spark in this world, and many will miss her. She was an admirable individual and active citizen even as she was a cherished daughter, sister, friend, mother, and wife during her 76 years of life. She passed away in the early hours of Wednesday, December 8, 2021, at her home in Clayton, Georgia.

Henri lived a beautiful and full life from beginning to end. She was, and will always be, immensely treasured. She was born on December 5, 1945, in Savannah, Georgia to loving parents, Henry Marshall and Frances Elizabeth Morrison Dunaway. Henri admired Frances, an enthusiastic homemaker and mother who encouraged Henri’s interests, both in education and extracurricular activities.

Henri attended Charles Ellis Elementary. She graduated from Savannah High and went on to study at Armstrong Junior College in 1963. In the late 1980s, she studied drafting at North Georgia Technical College in Clarkesville, Georgia.

Henri married Stephen Rubert Graves, Sr. in 1965 and they had two children, Stephen Rubert Graves, Jr. and Aimee Leona Graves. Over the decades, Henri and her husband moved their family from South Carolina to Oklahoma, Missouri, Arizona, and Colorado before returning to the South in 1980, this time to settle in Northeast Georgia.

We will remember Henri for her loving nature, her joyfulness and laughter, and her occasional stubbornness. She was an enthusiastic, determined individual who took great enjoyment in her young family. Later, she embraced being single and made a good life for herself. Homemaking, gardening, pickleball, and travel brought her happiness. Strolling the sandbar, lolling in a hammock with a book on the dock at Myrtle Island, and kayaking in the May River grounded her. Her dear friends brought her joy and a sense of continuity and belonging. Henri held fast to her moral and political beliefs over time. She committed herself to being a member of the Rabun County community and rolled up her sleeves beside others to make a positive difference in each other’s lives. Henri formed some of her closest friendships in Rabun County.

She was an accomplished artist and entrepreneur with a passion for traditional tole painting, antiquing and “junking”. Many of the people she worked with absolutely admired her. She exemplified the motto: Either find a way or make one. She was a well-respected professional among people traveling the east coast antiques and collectibles circuit.

Henri offered optimism that was honest, heartfelt, and spilled over into all that she did. She saw the world as it was and, despite the challenges that exist, perennially chose to focus on the beauty and wonder of it all. She recognized grace in many things, often marveling aloud how much she had to be grateful for. She was loyal and loved fully. She often called to check on you and yours. She had a deep affection for dogs and a famous fondness for reading. She cultivated peace and beauty in her world. Henri touched many of us with her kindness, humor, and thoughtfulness.

In what was her last year of life, Henri planted and tended her garden even though she did not know if she would get to see her flowers bloom. She kept her positive attitude even while ill, dreaming of travel to Cade’s Cove, marveling at a pair of baby doves taking flight for the first time just outside her bedroom window, starting nasturtiums from seed in her kitchen windowsill, and remembering trips across the lower 48 states in Zazu, a 1986 RV Stephen Jr. upgraded for her and her sister Jean. Babies made her smile, always! She had completed training, before Covid put the world on hold, so that she could comfort children in crisis foster care. Until a week before she passed, she continued to tend her friendships, direct the care of her home and garden, and even restore old things into fresh treasures.

Henri showed up when it mattered, had your back, and gave to the world generously the gifts she had to give right to the end.

Henri is predeceased by her parents and her sister, Porter Jean Dunaway. She is survived by her son Stephen Graves, Jr. of Warner Robins, Georgia, daughter Aimee Graves and son-in-law Michael Harris of Tucson, Arizona, sister Frances Mills of Savannah, Georgia, cousin Robert Fuller of Fairburn, Georgia, beloved young friend Andrea Olivares of Brunswick, Georgia, her ex-husband Stephen Graves, Sr. of Hiawassee, Georgia, and her devoted dogs Nubbin and Coco. Five nephews, a niece, and extended family also survive her. We will miss Henri dearly and are grateful for the time we had to spend with her. We will always feel her presence in our hearts.

All are invited to join a reception at 9 AM followed by a memorial service at 10:30 AM on Monday, January 17, 2022, at Wayfarers Unity Chapel with the Reverend Father Gary Baldwin of Grace-Calvary Episcopal Church officiating. The Chapel’s address is 182 Wayfarer Lane, Dillard, Georgia 30537. Wayfarers Unity is kind enough to host family, friends, and Grace-Calvary Episcopal Church for the celebration of Henri’s life. Because Henri liked red, the family invites you to wear a hint of it in memory of her joyful spirit!

In lieu of flowers, contributions in memory of Henri can be made to Rabun County Caring & Sharing at PO Box 1747, Clayton, GA 30525.

An online guest register is available and may be viewed at www.habershamcrematory.com.

Habersham Crematory (678-617-2210) of Cornelia is in charge of arrangements.

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