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Red Cross volunteer retires after 50 years of service

| August 23, 2018

Shirley Graham has retired from volunteering at Red Cross blood drives for at least the past 50 years. Pictured with her helping to celebrate her achievements are, from left: Bud Conger, Judie Snoots (kneeling), Graham, and Daphne Conger.

COSHOCTON – Many people in Coshocton County who have donated blood over the years and those who have volunteered with the Red Cross would recognize the name Shirley Graham. She has been a staple in the Red Cross blood drives for at least 50 years and was known for her cinnamon sandwiches. Both Red Cross staff and donors alike got to know Graham and were close with her.

“She was reliable,” said Judie Snoots, volunteer at Red Cross. “She was always there and you could count on her. She was someone you didn’t have to remind or follow up on. She’d always be the one to remind you.”

Graham learned the value of hard work at a young age and was raised by a strong woman who worked in housekeeping at the hospital when Graham’s dad lost his job.

“I remember we wouldn’t see her for weeks,” said Graham. “She would leave for her job before we got up in the morning and wouldn’t be home until we were already in bed for the night.”

Graham, who will be celebrating her 93rd birthday next month, was in charge of the kitchen at the Red Cross blood drives. Her last blood drive before her retirement was in February.

“I love people,” she said. “I enjoy being with people and enjoy doing the blood drive bank. I met people I never would have met if I hadn’t volunteered. They were all such nice people to work with.”

Graham has four children, nine grandchildren, and numerous great-grandchildren. She started volunteering at the blood drives when her first child was small and has also served on numerous committees at her church, Emmanuel Lutheran Church, and has taught Bible School for five years. She also volunteered at what is now Signature Healthcare for many years.

Graham is an independent woman who lives in the same house in Coshocton that she has lived in in more than 60 years. One of her hobbies is working out in her yard and she has been a member of a local Hausey card club for more than 50 years.

“She was a wonderful touchstone for donors in the community,” said Wendy Yarbrough, recruitment district manager for the Red Cross. “They knew when they would go give blood, they were going to see Shirley. When you have volunteers like Shirley retire and move on, it definitely leaves a hole. You don’t have people anymore in the community who are willing to step up and take the roles these long-time volunteers have fulfilled for so long.”

On Thursday, Aug. 23, Graham had Snoots, Yarbrough, Jackie Mishler, who is the accountant manager for Red Cross locally, and her daughter and son-in-law, Daphne and Bud Conger, over to her home to celebrate her retirement. Yarbrough and Mishler showered Graham with cards and flowers and wished her well in her retirement.

“Shirley was a consistent force of the blood drive,” said Mishler. “She kept everyone in line. The staff would miss her if she was sick and didn’t show up at a blood drive, and they miss her now.”

The next blood drive will be Aug. 31 at the hospital from noon to 6 p.m.

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Category: People & Places

About the Author ()

I have been employed at the Coshocton County Beacon since September 2009 as a news reporter and assistant graphic artist. I am a 2004 graduate of Newcomerstown High School and a 2008 graduate of Capital University with a bachelor’s degree in Professional Writing. I am married to John Scott and live in Newcomerstown. We have two beautiful daughters, Amelia Grace Scott and Leanna Rose Scott.

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