Memorial Service: Olive Graffam

September 25, 2017 - 5:30pm to 6:30pm

Olive Blair Graffam, 85, passed away on April 22, 2017 due to complications from lymphoma, at her home in Arlington, VA.  Born in Fouke, Mississippi, her early life was spent moving north along the Natchez Trace while her father served as a civil engineer involved in its construction.  Her family ultimately settled in Florence, Alabama.

Olive later attended Union College, graduating Magna Cum Laude in 1953, and became a high school teacher from 1954-1956, before attending Officer Candidate School in Newport, RI, and receiving her commission as an Ensign in the United States Navy in December 1956.  She served in Washington, DC where she met her husband, Captain Earl H. Graffam, also a Naval Officer; they were married in 1959.  She received her Honorable Discharge in 1964, after which she served as a military spouse moving throughout the United States and spending two years stationed in Bahrain.  After Captain Graffam’s retirement, Olive attended George Washington University, earning her Master’s Degree in American Civilization.

She went on to a career at the Daughters of the American Revolution Museum, with special expertise in silver, samplers, portraiture and graphic arts, Southern nineteenth-century material culture and social history, and American decorative arts.  Prior to joining the DAR museum, she served many years as a volunteer research assistant and docent at the Smithsonian’s Museum of American History.  She began her work with the DAR as a curatorial assistant in 1985.  She was an accomplished speaker and author and mounted numerous significant exhibits during her tenure.  She retired from her position as Curator of Collections in 2016.

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