Ann M. GrahamApril 14, 1962 ~ September 11, 2020 (age 58)
Ann Marie Graham, nee Drish, of Belleville, Illinois, born April 14, 1962 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, passed on at her residence on Friday, September 11, 2020 surrounded by the endless love of her children and husband.
Ann was a lifelong devoted advocate of children of all ages, as evidenced by her 36-year career as an early childhood educator in a variety of settings. She obtained a master’s degree in early childhood education at the age of 53 and was nationally recognized as a top 10 PBS Early Learning Champion in 2018. The last 9 years of her career were spent at the Maplewood Richmond Heights Early Childhood Center in Missouri. Prior to that, she served for 15 years at Signal Hill Elementary School, as the founding director and teacher of its preschool program, in Belleville, IL.
Ann’s passion for the growth and development of children was surpassed only by the love of her family and friends. Ann cherished her family and friends above all and loved nothing more than spending as much time as possible with them. She enjoyed nature of all kinds, and especially the ocean, hiking and just sitting around a bonfire.
Ann was extremely creative. She had a truly unique ability to create beauty out of the most plain and simple things. Her eclectic taste and innate sense of design were immediately apparent to anyone who was fortunate enough to share time with her, while either shopping or visiting in the comfortable beauty of her ever changing, but always festive and magically decorated home. Her most beautiful smile, sweet disposition, humility, kindness, and generosity were obvious and appreciated by everyone who knew her.
Ann was preceded in death by her father, Kenneth J. Drish. She is survived by her college sweetheart and husband, Steve Graham; her children Caitlin (Cullen) Speckhals of Richmond Heights, MO, Kelsey (Matthew) Perry of Freeburg, IL, Kyle Graham of Belleville, IL, and Charlie Graham of Belleville, IL; her grandchildren, Charlotte and Colton Speckhals; her mother, Jane, nee Hoopman, Drish of Cedar Rapids, IA; her siblings, Sue Drish, Mark (Shelly) Drish, Bob (Sara) Drish, Tom (Sara) Drish, and Joe Drish, all of Cedar Rapids, IA; her father and mother-in- law, Derril and Delores Graham of Sioux City, IA; her sisters-in-law, Karen (Risty) Stamoulis, Janet McClary, and Mary (Dennis) Morrisey; and many many other relatives and friends.
Memorials may be made to Friends of Kids with Cancer and will be accepted at Kassly Mortuary or online at www.friendsofkids.com/donate.
Visitation will be held on Tuesday, September 15, 2020 from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Kassly Mortuary, Ltd., Fairview Heights, IL.
Funeral procession will depart Kassly Mortuary at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, September 16, 2020 to Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, Belleville, IL for a 10:00 a.m. Funeral Mass with co-celebrants Fr. Matt Elie and Fr. Ed Murphy officiating.