Ernestine’s Influence & Faith

Ernestine Graves Was Truly an Amazing Evansville Woman!Ernestine Graves

February 18, 1922 – October 11, 2013

Writings from Two People Whose Lives
Were Impacted by This Remarkable Lady

On a cloudy day in March, 2007, I met this friendly lady, who was in her mid-eighties then, while we were both attending the graveside service of a man who died tragically while he was homeless.  She knew him from her frequent visits to United Caring Shelter to serve meals or deliver donated clothing items.  I was aware of him through my job at the time with a homeless services agency, Aurora, Inc.06-30-06 ErnestineGraves

Soon after we became acquainted, Ernestine had learned about our work at Aurora and had connected me to the congregation where she worshiped then and with a small group of ladies from a former church family.  Her connections wrought speaking opportunities and led to others becoming aware of the kinds of needs that she regularly busied herself with meeting as she was able.  When she switched to a church closer to her home, she again connected me (as well as other homeless service providers) with an opportunity to speak. She also engaged people in that church family in her behind-the-scenes ministry to people who are homeless.U-Donate15

Nearly every Sunday (and even on other days), someone would find Ernestine to let her know they’d brought items for her to give away to people who are homeless. Even when her health dipped a bit a few years ago, she kept on going.  She found a simple joy in doing the simplest of things: sharing with others in need.  Plus, she would tell others of needs of which she heard, thereby, she often connected people who need things with people who had the things they need.051107-Ernestine-Brooke

Ernestine enjoyed a variety of things and had many interesting experiences.  She loved Indian food. She collected many nativity sets, some from various nations.  She served this country as a “Rosie the Riveter,” helping to build wings of planes during the war.  She was active in her neighborhood association.  Still, it was her generous nature and interest in others that stood out the most.

One of the basic definitions of “philanthropy” is “active effort to promote human welfare.”  That description so vividly depicted Ernestine Graves.  Her influence in this community was person to person.  She influenced many in this community: some to give; some to learn of needs in case they might one day choose to give or get involved; some to survive another day with things that were given; some to continue to have hope by knowing someone cares; and some she would never meet who would hear of her life and be inspired to follow her example.

by Kat Isbell, Owner, Kat KreationsMvc-019f

In 2007, Ernestine started bringing donated items to the House of Bread and Peace.  She would drop by there at least once a week after that with items that friends and family had given her, because they knew she would get them to people who were really in need.

The kids at the shelter could always count on Ernestine to bring new books, clothes, and fun items. The women at the House benefited from a variety of nice donations, like clothes, shoes, household items, and magazines.EGraves-sorting food

Ernestine made herself aware of the resources in our community and shared that information with any of us she met.  She did a great job of connecting people and agencies to the resources they needed. Through her efforts to help others, Ernestine not only provided items, she helped promote many social service agencies and showed her friends how they could be involved in the community.

Ernestine was thoughtful and friendly every time we saw her, and kept going despite not always feeling as energetic as she would have liked.  The House of Bread and Peace was very fortunate to have such an amazing woman supporting us!

by Sarah Wolf , Executive Director, House of Bread and Peace

Carrying on Her TraditionRose in Her Place2-101313

On the Sunday morning after Ernestine went Home to the Lord, a red rose sat in the place in the pew where she normally sat during morning worship.  The rose was placed there by one of her sorority sisters who had witnessed Ernestine doing the same for others in the church family when they had passed.

Thoughts on Her Faith 

 by Ernestine Graves           

A few years ago, the pastor where Ernestine worshiped asked congregation members to write their thoughts about their faith.  Below is an excerpt from Ernestine’s letter.EG-closeup

My thoughts are hard to put on paper these days. Could it be my age? You ask about my feelings of my faith. How are my feelings? They are just there—inside me, very quiet. My faith has always been in my doings, my everyday life—at work, at home, with family, at church, in my yard—close to God when digging in the dirt. His world is full of beauty, hope and also full of hurt and worry. I’ve felt close to God driving to Indiana University for my boys. Loving all the small towns and small wood churches I passed by. My faith is like air and food—it’s there—and I’m the better for it. I guess you would say it is just living.


Ernestine Graves was a nominee in the 2009 Women of Influence contest hosted by the Evansville Courier & Press: .  Her being featured in the article about that contest garnered the attention of Maturity Journal, which did a story on her benevolent life. She was a member of the Castalian Sorority at Evansville College.

Up until the first week of October, Ernestine was still out and about, driving herself here and there on her missions and visits.  On Saturday, October 5, 2013, she received word that she had acute leukemia and could have about three months to live. Her symptoms had been fatigue and lack of appetite, which continued. After the weekend, she began needing help to walk. Soon after, she was mostly in bed. By Thursday, October 10, she was admitted into VNA Hospice.  She was rarely conscious while there as her family members checked on her frequently.  By 2:00 pm., Friday, October 11th, she had left this world for her eternal Home. 

Obituary for Ernestine Christian Graves – published by Evansville Courier & Press (guest book on site will remain open until 11/14/13)


If you knew, met or were impacted by Ernestine’s life, please feel free to leave a reply below.

Stella’s Influence


Sometimes one word can so readily describe a person’s life, yet have many avenues by which it does so. While I was reflecting on Stella’s life, the word that kept rising to the surface was “influence.” Part of the word’s definition is “to have an effect on the condition or development of.” Allow me to share some of the key ways through which Stella influenced and had an effect upon my life.



From ages 8 – 12, Stella taught me in Sunday School in the basement of Griffin Christian Church.

When I was 12, I chose to follow Jesus. Her teaching pointed me toward Jesus and encouraged me to make a decision that would guide the rest of my life, impact others through me, and influence my eternity beyond this world.


By age 8, I’d saved up several of the half dollar coins my grandpa had been giving me since Kindergarten for good grades. One Saturday, I went to Stinson’s Hardware and used those coins to buy a basketball hoop and net. Dad mounted them on a shed by our house. The next morning, a Sunday morning, for the first time ever as a child, I skipped Sunday School … and I stayed home to shoot hoops.

Sometime during the week after that, my Sunday School teacher, Stella, gave me a gentle and loving reminder about priorities … I can’t remember missing Sunday School again for the rest of my childhood. Her simple reminder planted a seed in me for influencing how I evaluate what’s most important in this life.


During my 5th grade year, my family moved from the south end of Griffin (by the interstate) to the north end of town, just a few doors west of Stella and Junior. Many times I would ride my bike over to visit Stella, who welcomed me for a chat whenever she had time. Her hospitality was a cherished gift during my pre-teen and teen years.

In reality, the time she offered then actually influenced me as an adult. As I reflected on this piece of Stella’s life, I recalled a season of my life when I lived in a different small town and hosted neighborhood kids at my place too, shining the love of Jesus into their lives as Stella had done with me. Her example had been reproduced in me to influence others many years later.

In my college and adult years, I would occasionally see Stella during times I was back in Griffin. Her consistent message during those times would be that she was proud of me and the person I’d become. I’m thankful that she could know that the Lord used her as an instrument for shaping me to live for the Lord, allowing Him to use me to influence the lives of others.

In the pages of the Bible, the Word of God, that Stella helped me learn to understand and love, there are these words that were penned by Paul to one of his students, Timothy.

“… remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you. You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:14-15).stella3

Stella was one of those who taught me the Scriptures from childhood. She taught not only in the little classroom in the basement at the church building, but also in her kitchen, her living room, her yard, and through her life.

I’m so grateful that Stella poured her life into mine. I’m thankful for her influence that continues to have ripple effects throughout the years.
Because of her life, I know Jesus.
Because I know Jesus, my life has never ever been the same.

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On August 30, 2013, Stella McIntire went Home to Jesus, leaving a legacy of reflecting Him to many, many lives …  read more or click here