Obituary Listings

Wendell Graves

November 24, 1940 December 13, 2017
Wendell Graves
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Obituary for Wendell Graves

Wendell James Graves, 77, of Independence, Iowa, died on December 13, 2017. He was born November 24, 1940, the oldest of two sons born to Marvin and Beulah Graves and grew up in Dike, Iowa. He is survived by his wife, Sidonie; their four children: James (Cathy) Graves of Indianapolis, Sara (Paul) Raak of Washington, D.C., Bentley (Jodi) Graves of Minneapolis, and Collyn (Keith) Capp of Washington, D.C.; and his brother Don Graves of Dike. He had 11 grandchildren – 10 on earth, one in heaven.

Wendell was ambitious, loyal, entrepreneurial, idealistic, stubborn, and most importantly, a devoted follower of Jesus Christ. The son of a small-town Iowa banker and homemaker, he loved the land, livestock and deal-making. As a boy he sold pigeons and nightcrawlers and raised and sold rabbits nailing a sign to a tree that said, “Rabbits: Dollar live. Dollar and a quarter dressed.” After two years at Iowa State University, he moved back to Dike and rented a 120-acre farm where he ewed 500 lambs the first winter. He joined the National Guard and served for six years. He committed his working life to agribusiness. He raised hogs, built a fortune in land and cattle holdings in the 1970s and then lost most of it in the farm crisis. “That was actually the best thing that ever happened to me. I was getting pretty cocky,” he said.

Wendell was introduced to his future wife, a beautiful and sophisticated woman named Sidonie Brooks, from Fort Worth, Texas, by friends at Cono Christian School near Walker. Sidonie was a recruiter working for Covenant College, and the two dated long distance, sometimes meeting in Chicago for dinner, before getting married on Lookout Mountain, Ga., on August 4, 1979. Wendell’s father rented a bus to ferry a group of Iowans to the wedding at Lookout Mountain Presbyterian Church. The new couple honeymooned in Europe and moved first to Texas, where they started their family, but settled in Waterloo, where they grew their family and Wendell sold seed corn and traded commodities and cattle. In 1990, they moved to Independence, where they lived when all their children graduated from high school. Their home on Third Street and Fifth Avenue SW was warm and welcoming, often full of their children’s friends, and evening meals and Saturday morning breakfasts were famously generous and delicious. Wendell sang the praises of beef, and he traveled Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Nebraska in his Cadillac, brokering cattle deals. He served as a member of the board of Covenant College, as a member and chairman of the board of Cono Christian School, and as an elder of Covenant Presbyterian Church in Cedar Falls.

He loved the Bible, read it daily, filled it with annotations, and loved to discuss it with close friends and family. In 1995, the Graveses helped to start a church in Independence under Casey Reinkoester as preacher. Wendell, who was committed to the church, was devoted to Reinkoester as his pastor, and attended Casey’s churches for the next 22 years. Wendell said before he died of cancer that he wanted to be remembered for his children and their families, who gave him great pride. “I give Sidonie a big share of the credit for that,” he said.

A visitation will be held from 2:00 – 4:00 on Sunday, December 17th at Walker Bible Church (510 Linn Street in Walker, Iowa). A memorial service will be held the following day, on Monday, December 18th at 11:00, also at Walker Bible Church, with lunch to follow.

Flowers may be sent to the church through Sherbon’s Market in Walker (319-448-4682). Gifts may be given in Wendell’s memory to Walker Bible Church in care of Glen Fults, P.O. Box 131, Walker, Iowa 52352.​

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