Velma was born April 1, 1928, to Robert and Alice (Niemeyer) Erdmann in Vernon, Texas. She was born into a large, close-knit family of 15 children. Velma spent much of her childhood serving others outside of her immediate family. She graduated from Vernon High School in 1945 as valedictorian. Shortly after graduation, she began her career in 1945 as a switchboard operator for Southwestern Bell.
Velma married Joe Graham on August 24, 1955, in Vernon, Texas. The couple soon settled in Lubbock, Texas, where they raised their two children, Kelly and Stephen. Velma chose to stay home to be with the children during their early years, but returned to work once they began elementary school. She served as a Library Assistant at Hodges Elementary in Lubbock and retired in 1992 as the Posey Elementary Librarian. Velma found much pleasure helping students find interesting books to read and enjoyed reading to her students as they sat circled around her.
Velma was a terrific mother who always put her family first. She loved throwing themed birthday parties, making her daughter Kelly’s clothes, and helping her children succeed in all of their endeavors. Among many examples, Velma selflessly would arise at 4:00 am to help her young son, Stephen, prepare the newspapers for his daily delivery route.
Velma’s passions included gardening and researching her family ancestry. She also enjoyed repurposing household items and believed that recycling was important for the environment and for future generations. She had excellent culinary skills, and family and friends especially enjoyed her Sunday pot roast and Texas sheath cake. Later in life, Velma could be found sitting on her back porch, admiring the lushness of her back yard that she created and maintained.
Velma is survived by husband Joe Graham of Lubbock, TX; daughter Kelly Byer of Riverside, CA; son Stephen Graham of Blanco, TX; grandchildren Kristen Cuff, Kimberly Felipe, Jordan Byer, Jason Byer, and Jackson Graham; four brothers and six sisters. She is preceded in death by parents, Robert and Alice Erdmann, and four siblings.
We would like to offer our sincere gratitude for the excellent quality of care provided by the University Medical Center Geriatric Trauma Unit. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial gifts be made to Wounded Warriors Project or Meals on Wheels America.
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