November 20, 1952 - June 14, 2021
Dr. Becky Jo Graham, Ph. D. Born November 20, 1952. Died June 14, 2021. On in the early morning of June 14, Dr. Becky Jo Graham, Ph. D - mother, grandmother, teacher, mentor, friend - passed away in Columbus, Ohio. She was a joyful 68. Becky was born on a brisk Thursday afternoon in Ottumwa, Iowa, a town that would remain in her life and heart. After graduating from Ottumwa High School in 1970, she attended the University of Iowa where she studied Botany, played cello, protested the Vietnam War, collected a loyal group of friends, and attended as many Grateful Dead concerts as was logistically possible. Somewhere in between, Becky Graham fell in love and married George Shirk and put her remaining classes on hold. They had adventures, hardships as well as successes, and brought two children into this world, Kate in 1978 and Richard in 1980. Becky and George eventually went their separate ways, but always cared for one another, bonded during their lifetime by their children and their roots. After moving her family back to Iowa in 1991, she graduated from Iowa State University in 1993 with a B.S. with Distinction in Biology, and then earned her Ph. D in Microbiology in 2002. It was there in Ames, Iowa that she met Dr. J. Barry Jewell, an equally brilliant, kind, and quirky scientist, who was her husband, friend, and constant companion throughout the rest of her time. She used her skills and intellect in the research laboratories of Iowa State, Cornell College, and Yale University. Later, at Ohio Dominican University, and the Fort Hayes Career Center in Columbus, Ohio, she found perhaps her true calling in life as a beloved teacher, professor, and mentor to her students. Her students often remained her friends, keeping in touch with her years after they graduated. Dr. Becky Graham instilled in her students a respect for truth, honesty, and trust in science. In her labs and classes, she showed her students the beauty, wonder, and clockwork intricacies present everywhere in our natural world. Family was so important to Becky. She was close to both her mother and father, and cherished the time she was able to spend with her father, Richard Graham, while he was in Ohio. She spoke sometimes several times a day on the telephone with her daughter Kate, and vacationed with Barry every summer to Northern California to see her son Richard and his wife Susan, who she loved like a daughter. She loved her son-in-law Chris dearly, and they took great joy in debating current events and different points of view with each other. She loved going back to Iowa to see her large extended network of aunts, uncles, and cousins. Becky loved her grandchildren Matthew, Jonny, and Patrick fiercely and they her. To them, she was 'Bubby', and a source of hugs, dirty limericks, and back scratches. Becky never missed a chance to tell them how much she loved them. Her cats Agnes and Phoebe found a home with her and Barry full of love, catnip, and lazy afternoon naps. Dr. Becky Graham was an assertive, strong woman. Exceptionally brilliant, she also had a sly, salty sense of humor and laughed easily and often. She raised two kids on her own while putting herself through school, teaching her children perseverance and fortitude, as well the value and sublimity of a quiet afternoon in a botanical garden, a walk in the woods, or a cozy rainy day. She questioned authority, spoke up for herself and others, and was a devoted friend and colleague to so many. She loved music, film, theater, books, and the very finest wines of Anderson Valley, California. She embraced life, and lived it fully, always brimming with gratitude and exclaiming often about how lucky we all are. It is for this and a thousand other reasons she will be missed. While her family feels the loss deeply, they find solace and comfort that she was surrounded by loved ones as she battled to hold on to life. Her daughter Kate spoke to her and held her hand as she died. Her husband, Barry, was there with her as well. In the end she was at peace. Dr. Becky Graham, Ph. D is survived in life by her loving husband, Dr. J. Barry Jewell, Ph. D, her daughter Kate (Chris) Gandee, her son Richard (Susan Chrzanowski) Shirk and her grandchildren Matthew, Jonathan, and Patrick, and a brother Doug Graham. ARRANGEMENTS ENTRUSTED TO SCHOEDINGER NORTHEAST. A memorial will be held over Labor Day weekend near her hometown of Ottumwa, Iowa. We ask that in lieu of flowers, for those inclined, to please donate to their local chapters of the ACLU, ASPCA, or local schools in need.
Dr. Becky Jo Graham, Ph. D. Born November 20, 1952. Died June 14, 2021. On in the early morning of June 14, Dr. Becky Jo Graham, Ph. D - mother, grandmother, teacher, mentor, friend - passed away in Columbus, Ohio. She was a joyful 68. Becky... View Obituary & Service Information
Obituary & Service
Dr. Becky Jo Graham, Ph. D. Born November 20, 1952. Died June...View More
Flowers & Gifts
Send flowers to the Graham family.Send Flowers