Michael Van Graves, 66, of Chula, died Wednesday, February 21, 2018 at WellStar Cobb Hospital in Austell, Georgia. Funeral services will be held at 11:00 a.m. Monday, February 26th in Mount Zion Baptist Church with the Reverend Larry Layfield officiating. Burial will follow at Mount Zion Cemetery. The family will receive friends from 4:00 to 6:00 PM Sunday at Albritton Funeral Home. Mr. Graves, or as friends called him “Van”, was born on August 28, 1951 in Chula, Georgia to the late Doris Griffin and Ray William Graves.
After attending Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College (ABAC), he began a lifelong career in farming. While he farmed both tobacco and peanuts, his primary crop was cotton. He was dedicated to his work, but what people remember most is his love for others. In the midst of the busy season for farmers, Van would take the time each year to plant a garden filled with potatoes and vegetables for the community to enjoy. He invited anyone to take as much as they wanted, and this selfless act brought him great joy. While he was not a man of many words, he stood ready with encouragement at just the right time and he consistently evidenced his love in his actions to those in his life. He loved spending time watching his sons play sports both in high school and college. Friends and family fondly remember the time he spent grilling his famous chicken wings for the University of Georgia tailgates, family reunions, and Mount Zion Church events. Above all, he loved his grandchildren. He was even quoted by his family as saying that he wished he had the grandchildren first. Van was a man of faith and served as an active member of Mount Zion Baptist Church. Along with his wife, he attended the Adult 2 Sunday School class. Van was dedicated to his role as cook for the Syrup Soppers Prayer Breakfast. Van was a habitual jokester. For those who knew him well, these jokes were familiar. For those he had just met, the jokes were new. But for all who encountered Van, these jokes were evidence of his genuine love, care, and affection. He often ended a conversation with “it is what it is” reminding those who were listening that while we cannot always change our circumstances, we must look at the blessings that we have as family and friends.
Mr. Graves will be remembered fondly by so many as husband, daddy, papa, brother, and fellow church member. All will remember him as a friend. He was preceded in death by his brother, Alva Ray Graves. He is survived by his wife, Debra Garrett Graves of Chula, his sons and daughters-in-law and their children, Gant and Jessica Graves of Saint Simons Island, GA and Avera and Jack, and Will and Joanna Graves of Tifton, GA and Parker. He loved his family dearly. He is also survived by his siblings and their families, Griffin “Tot” and Johnne Graves of Chula, GA, Joy and Jerry Clack of Leesburg, GA, Judy Reynolds of Tifton, GA, and Jana and Chris Cromer of Chula, GA. He loved his many cousins, nieces, and nephews and his good friend, Jack Davenport.
Pallbearers will be his first cousins: Bob Gilmore, Brad Griffin, Buddy Whiddon, Carroll Griffin, David Griffin, Glenn Griffin, Rodney Griffin, Steve Griffin, and Roger Womack. Honorary pallbearers will be Adult 2 Sunday School Class, the members of the Syrup Soppers Prayer Breakfast, and the Tift County High School Class of 1970.
To pay your online condolences, please visit http://www.albrittonfuneralhome.com/.