WEBSTER, Fla. — In the company of family and friends, beneath the live oaks of his Webster, Fla. ranch, one of life’s greatest cowboys, John David Graves, rode into the light on the Lord on Nov. 28, 2016.
He was born in Rowl, Ind. He moved to Mount Vernon as a young boy. John fished and camped with friends Mo, Gib, Hoss, Augie and more along the Kokosing. Saturday morning horse rides at Van Rhoden Stables grew to a life-long love of horses and mules, a horseback wedding and a career as a nationally and internationally recognized trainer and showman.
Just out of school, he trained for Mar-Dar Arabians then went to Buster Welch’s Cutting Horse Ranch before he was drafted in to the Army to serve in Vietnam. Following service, he started training Arabian horses achieving several National Championships. During this time, he didn’t just limit himself to training and showing Arabian show horses, but to all breeds and styles, including a new-found love for his mules.
His great smile and character brightened every room, arena and trail he graced with a sparkle that warmed every friend or stranger. That smile was snuffed when he succumbed to agent orange induced lung cancer. His death is emblematic of thousands of American youth that have died and continue to die daily as a result of the Vietnam war. His decision to donate his earthly remains to Science Care for the study of his illness and use of viable tissue speaks to John’s will to continue serving fellow veterans that daily die from the deadly lingering legacy of that war.
John was preceded in death by his father, John Sharp (Korean War); stepfather, Floren A. Graves; mother, Francis; and sister, Donna. He is survived by his wife of 47 years, Patricia Rima Graves; son, Wade, who is an aspiring artist; daughter, Bethann Salamy, whose marriage to Nathan Salamy brought three adoring grandchildren, Camden, Ryken and Gage to their lives who will greatly miss their loving Poppy and more in life’s journey they could have shared.
A Celebration of Life service is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 3, at 1 p.m., in Brooksville, Fla., at the Stable Faith Cowboy Church with Pastor David Hope. The church is on US Rt 41, one mile south of Chinsegut Ave. and one mile north of Howell Ave. A second service will be scheduled for friends and family in the Mount Vernon area, date to be decided. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be sent to GoFundMe.com and search for Johnny Graves of Webster, Fla. See obit: Contact brewerfuneral.com; 352-796-4991.
Submitted by Patricia Graves.