Beloved husband and father, Leslie Milton Graham, 95, of Marshalltown, IA passed away Sunday, April 11, 2021, at the Iowa Veterans Home in Marshalltown. Funeral services will be 11:00 a.m., Wednesday, April 14, 2021 at First United Methodist Church in Marshalltown. Visitation will be 9:30 a.m., until the time of the services at the church. Interment will be at Riverside Cemetery with military honors provided by the Marshalltown Combined VFW and American Legion Honor Guard. Arrangements are entrusted to Anderson Funeral Homes of Marshalltown. Online condolences may be sent to www.andersonfhs.com
Leslie was born in Rothsay, MN, July 9, 1925, The family moved to Burt, IA where Leslie grew up in a family of five brothers and four sisters along with his parents Jay and Clara Graham. He graduated from Burt High School at the age of 16 spending the following year in his father's blacksmith shop where he honed his carpentry skills. He entered the service in 1943 at 18 during World War II and served as an Army Corporal in the 9th Infantry Division in France, Belgium and Germany. He was wounded in France at the Battle of Normandy in 1944 and received the Purple Heart. He was also awarded four Battle Stars for the Battle of Normandy, Battle of the Bulge, Rhineland Battle and the Eastern Germany Battles as well as the Presidential Unit Citation of the 9th Division, The Victory Medal, and The Bronze Star.
After his discharge from the Army, he received his B.A. and Masters Degrees from the University of Northern Iowa. He was awarded a Shell Fellowship at Stanford University as well as National Science Foundations' programs to teach and further his education at Iowa State University, the University of Alabama and the University of Nevada at Reno.
He met Donna Marie Hemminger at Kirkman, IA where they were both school teachers. They were married June 10, 1951, at the Methodist Church in Harlan, IA. They lived and taught at Kirkman and Manson where he also coached Girls basketball, before moving to Marshalltown in 1957. They had three children, Melody, Paula and Brent who all graduated from Marshalltown High School. In 2001, Leslie and Donna celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary at the Fisher Community Center.
Leslie taught advanced math, trigonometry and analytic geometry at Marshalltown High School for 33 years before his retirement in 1990. He was the school sponsor of the MHS Key Club with an annual Thanksgiving feast for Exchange students and their host families. Leslie was Past President of the Iowa Math Teachers and was a life member of the NEA. He and his wife Donna enjoyed being members of many teacher groups in Marshalltown.
Leslie served as secretary of Matins Kiwanis for 23 years and was a life member of Kiwanis International. He also served as Lt. Governor of Div. 10 for the Nebraska -IA Kiwanis District. He played active roles in Kiwanis service projects such as Courthouse renovations, community parks, cabin renovations at Camp Juliette and proudly serving at the Annual Pancake Day held at the Marshalltown Coliseum. His favorite project was the Kiwanis Funnel Cake fundraising trailer that appeared a various Central Iowa fairs, festivals and RAGBRAI each year. Leslie and his wife, Donna were long time members of First United Methodist Church. They sang in the choir and served on many committees. His favorite activities were cooking the chili at the annual Soup Supper and Cookie Walk and participating in Potluck Friends including domino games. They were members of the Community Concert Series and loved all types of music especially Sousa marches, brass ensembles and barbershop quartets.
Leslie was a good carpenter and would take on construction jobs during the summers. He built pole barns and a gazebo at Grimes Farm and even a cheese factory in Lander, WY. Les loved being outdoors in his overalls and was an avid gardener at his home and also at MCC Community Gardens sharing produce with his family, friends and the community. After retirement, he served as a Field Inspector for the Iowa Crop Association. He was a great cook with his speciality of Angel Food Cake even becoming the first male contestant to win a baking blue ribbon at the Central Iowa Fair in the sixties. He was an artist along with his wife Donna and their hobbies included ceramics, woodworking, basket making, paper mache and crafting, participating in the Central Iowa Art Association and various craft festivals. Les never met a stranger and enjoyed traveling across the US and Europe and spending time with his grandchildren and reunions with a large extended family and friends.
Leslie is survived by his daughter, Melody (Richie) Wolfe of Lucas, TX, daughter, Paula Graham of Marshalltown, and son Brenton (Katie) Graham, of Barrington, New Hampshire, grandchildren Courtney (Blake) MacNelly and Brian Wolfe, and Jay and Erica Graham, sister, Helen Olsen of Blooming Prairie, MN, brother in laws, John Hemminger of Tampa, FL, Tom Johns, Omaha, NE and numerous nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his wife, Donna, his parents, and five brothers and three sisters.
2 people have supported the family by purchasing them flowers or gifts from the Healing Registry.
I am originally from Burt, Iowa and my parents were in school with Leslie at Burt High School.
They would have reunions, and I remember my parents, Frank and Virginia Becker talking about the Graham Family including Leslie. Please include the names of his brothers and sisters in the obituary - as our family would probably remember them. So sorry for your loss - Linda (Becker) Armbrecht
I am so sad to hear of Mr. Graham’s passing. He was a key influence in my life, although I didn’t appreciate it at the time. He challenged us, his students, to become the best versions of ourselves. I remember his wonderful way of engaging students, my favorite being his oft-repeated instruction regarding our analytic geometry assignments: “Do as many or as few problems as you deem necessary.” Brilliant.
To Paula and family,
You and our community have suffered a great loss. Les was a very kind generous man, always ready to help others. We are very saddened by his passing.
Prayers for peace at this very difficult time.
Dan & Karen Engesser
Les was a man who could get a whole room of people down to business with a smile... young and old alike. A good man. God bless all who remember Les with a desire to get down to faithful business.
I had Mr. Graham as a math teacher in 1982. One day after class I was talking with him about how I was going to join the military after graduation. He opened up to me about his service and what he did and saw during WW2. I was forever grateful for that talk. I ended up serving in the very same areas of Germany where Mr. Graham fought. I often thought of him while I was there. He was a true hero.
My deepest condolences to Mr. Graham's family and friends, I have long felt my time in Mr. Graham's classes were my first introduction into the type of teaching and instruction that would be the norm as I went on to other post-high school learning environments. His lectures were concise, precise and always enjoyable, his passion for mathematics was evident and infectious to all that were listening. Upon reading Mr. Graham's very impressive obituary, my respect is even greater than it always was. A quintessential member of "The Greatest Generation", he embodied the humility and dedication to service that those of us in the subsequent generations would do well to emulate. Rest in peace Mr. Graham, a special, spectacular teacher of youth. Most Respectfully, Larry Daniels
Paula and siblings,
Please listen to my prayers for you, I didn't know of your dad's passing until this morning. He was truly an inspiration for me in high school as he cared so deeply for his students (I was one of those students). I will never forget being in Mr. Graham's classes for Trigonometry and Analytical Geometry. Mr. Graham made those subjects easy for me to comprehend, he fostered my life-long love of math. He would constantly tease me that I could teach the class (no way)! What a great man to walk this earth, he will be teaching so many people in Heaven.
Condolences to Uncle Leslie's family and friends. He had a fuller more amazing life than most of us knew. We enjoyed visiting him several times at the Veterans Home. On our first visit I asked him what he did for entertainment. I remembered all the Graham brothers played a lot of cards when they got together in Burt. He said most of the games there were pretty simple. Then with a slight smile and twinkle in his eye said "I don't think there are many scholars here"!
Brent, Paula and Melody, I'm sorry for your loss. Your Dad was a good man and so talented. he's now resting in peace. blessings to each of you. Sally Peterson
I didn't have Mr. Graham as a teacher, but I certainly remember him from my MHS days in the late 60's. He was kind and friendly to students; known to him and unknown. He was part of a steady, strong group of teachers who made Marshalltown High School a truly great place to learn and grow up. I never knew his WWII history, but it would have been an honor to hear his first hand knowledge of it. Thanks, Mr. Graham, for your service to your country and your students. God bless the family and friends you left behind.
Dear cousins, Melody, Paula and Brent,
I am so sorry for your loss! I have such fond memories of Les. He always went out of his way to help me. I remember when we were all together at G&G farm the summer he was remodeling for them. He had noticed I needed some cheering up and asked me to come see his work. I was so lifted when he asked me to help him. He taught me things about tools I did not know and allowed me to use his tools! It has inspired a life long interest in my own repairs and for that visit, made me feel important and helpful.
My memories of him in the bow ties of all shapes, colors and even light up versions will forever make me giggle. So glad you had such a warm and thoughtful father!
Melody, Paula, Brent, & Families,
We are saddened to learn of Your fathers passing. We have fond memories of fun times with Leslie & Donna over the years. We are also very appreciative of our children having had such a strong, but fun math teacher. We very much enjoyed the privilege of helping to make their 50th Anniversary Day special. Your parents are very special people and are greatly missed. We’re sorry we can’t attend the memorial services today, please know that we are with you in spirit.
Jerry & Elaine Harms
I graduated MHS in !968. I had Mr. Graham for trig. I used two stories from that class the rest of my life. The first was about my best friends . Mike Galantine was very good at trigonometry. My other friend was not. He decided to copy Galantine's trig homework and submit it to Mr. Graham. In class Mr. Graham announced that something had happened with our home work that had not ever happened before. One student had turned in two copies of the assignment. My not so trig oriented friend turned in his copied assignment including copying Galantine's name. Mr. Graham was not as amused as the rest of us were. The other story was about Mr. Graham being dressed in a very particular fashion each day. He wore a white shirt, a bow tie and black pants every day. One of the class thought it would be a good joke if all the class mimicked Mr. Graham and wore that same outfit. When I got to class, I was the only one that had shown up in the outfit. Mr. Graham took me off the hook by remarking about how well I was dressed that day. I also remember his "woody" station wagon . I owe Mr. Graham a lot because his class helped lead me to become an engineer. Thanks
Mr. Graham was one of my favorite teachers as well as his wife. He always knew I would sneak into his closet and grab a book because I was always funding late to his class after having PE. I would also see them at econofoods where I worked and they would always stop and say hi and talk.
He was a great man and will be missed. May he rest in peace.
Steve Slifer class of 86
What a fun teacher. I recall my favorite test question in Mr. Graham's class. If a steer weighs
2000 pounds standing on four legs, how much does the steer weigh standing on three legs?
Most everyone missed the question. He always held your attention and was a talented man.
John Reibsamen Class '62
Great teacher and a humble man. I remember him well from my time at MHS. So sorry for your loss.
Melody, Paula & Brent,
I was truly saddened to learn of your dad’s passing. I have so many fond memories of your dad. Les was a good, kind, and gentle man. Heaven has gained a true angel.
So very sorry for your loss. Rest in peace, Les. Dennis and Karen Westphal
Les was such a kind soul and loved his family beyond measure. He introduced Iowa cuisine to a bunch of Texans! We send our love and sympathies to Melody, Brent, Paula, and families. Thank you for your service to our country, Les. You have earned your rest. - Lori and Bob Smeby
I was lucky to have had the Graham family as patients in our dental practice. One of Les's monikers was to wear his bow tie to his appointments. He was a gentleman, modest, always wearing a smile and was extremely humble. Now, after reading his obituary, I realize he was more than humble, he was courageous. He set an example for all of us to live by. Even though we lost contact with each other after our retirements I will always remember him as a very special person.
One of the blessings from volunteering at IVH was my stop at Les Graham’s room for a visit. He was always positive and spoke of his love for his wife and family. He was such a wonderful person to work with in our Kiwanis club. He was a true patriotic American veteran. RiP Les. Sue & Bob Beurskens
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Marshalltown, IA 50158
Marshalltown, IA 50158
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