Sunday Obituary: Family celebrates grace of Patricia Graunitz's life

2010-12-25T22:28:00Z 2011-02-10T22:03:00Z Sunday Obituary: Family celebrates grace of Patricia Graunitz's lifeBy Tony Lystra / The Daily News Longview Daily News
December 25, 2010 10:28 pm  • 

The Graunitz family set up a travel trailer near Doernbecher Children's Hospital in Portland where Patricia Graunitz could sleep when she wasn't keeping watch over her 12-year-old son.

Her boy, Patrick, had been accidently shot in the back while a boy from his Castle Rock neighborhood was showing him a rifle. Surgeons in Longview had worked furiously to keep him alive before he could be transferred to Doernbecher.

In all, Patricia Graunitz stayed with her son night and day for three months until he made a full recovery. Her husband, a millwright at Weyerhaeuser in Longview, drove back and forth so he could keep working, and the Graunitzes' other children stayed with family and friends.

Nearly 50 years later, Graunitz's children still remember their mother's calm and grace in crisis.

"It always seemed like one of (us) was having an accident," said daughter Michele Kristensen, who now lives in Salem. "She always managed to keep herself together through that."

Patricia Ann Graunitz died Dec. 18. She was 88.

Graunitz was born March 2, 1922, in Wapato, Wash. She attended R.A. Long High School but didn't graduate. Kristensen said her mother was having trouble with math and "nobody would help her," so she became frustrated and dropped out.

She met her future husband, E.F. "Fred" Graunitz at the Montecello Hotel in Longview, where she was working as the elevator operator and he was a bellhop. She would later recall that the other bellhops would bring her sandwiches, but not Fred. Her children speculated this week that his fondness for her made him shy.

They married July 7, 1946, and had five children, whom they raised in Castle Rock. Graunitz had her hands full, with her husband working nights and swing shifts at Weyerhaeuser. She could be a stern parent, her children said. "She broke a lot of wooden spoons over our fannies," said Kristensen.

She opened fire on the neighbor dog, "Target," with a .22 rifle full of birdshot and sent the dog running- uninjured but yelping - after it chewed up one of her daughter's wool skirts that was drying on the clothes line.

"I didn't think mom would do that," said son Patrick Graunitz.

Yet, "everybody that ever met her or was around her would comment about how sweet she was," said Graunitz's daughter-in-law Leann Graunitz.

Although she didn't finish high school, Patricia Graunitz cultivated a love of words throughout her life. One of her favorite places was the Longview Public Library. She loved the books, but also the feel of the place and its architecture.

Patrick Graunitz said that when his mother read to her young children, "you felt like you were right there," in the story.

She especially loved mysteries and loved to talk about whatever she was reading with the people around her. "She lived the book," Leann Graunitz said.

She was a top-knotch seamstress and made all her own suits. In later years, she became an excellent quilter and was adept at other crafts.

Graunitz and her husband moved to LaPine, Ore., in the early 1980s, settling in a log cabin their children helped them build.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Fred; and a son, Michael.

Survivors include two daughters, Kristensen and Kim Graunitz; two sons and their wives, Patrick and Lynda Graunitz, and Timothy and Leann Graunitz; 16 grandchildren; 21 great-grandchildren; a great-great-grandchild; a sister, Lillian Ledbetter; a brother, Alan Morton; and numerous nieces and nephews.

Copyright 2014 Longview Daily News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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