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Beloved Mother, Grandmother, Great Grandmother, Entrepreneur
Jeanette Elaine Graveline, 94, of Prospect, passed away peacefully surrounded by the love of her family on Saturday, November 19, 2022 at Beacon Brook Health Center. She was born in Waterbury on February 23, 1928, a daughter of the late Wilfred and Juliette (Ward) Bernier of Waterbury. Elaine was the widow of Eugene Gilford, “Gene”, Graveline Sr., who was her loving husband of 49 years prior to his passing in 2003. Since that time, she has made her home in Prospect with her devoted son, Carl, who took great care of her, making sure she laughed a lot and maintained her active and adventurous life. Elaine was a faithful communicant of St. Ann’s Church of Waterbury and St. Anthony Church of Prospect. She prayed to her favorite St. Anthony every night.
Elaine was a trailblazer, an entrepreneur, world traveler and an energetic supporter of many civic organizations. She lived a full life, creating many “firsts” in her life story. After graduating from Wilby High School in 1946, Elaine worked as a secretary for Alexander Nichols Architects by day and was also a dance instructor at Bobby Southland Dance Studio in Waterbury. At one time, she danced on the popular television show, “Ted Mack Amateur Hour” which led to her “winning” the heart of her beloved future husband, Gene. He spotted her on the TV show and quickly signed up for lessons at the dance studio. This began their history of being dance partners for nearly five decades.
Elaine and Gene raised their five sons – Gil, Kurt, Mark, Carl and Leon – in Prospect. Elaine taught them all to tap dance and perform in local community shows and for patients at convalescent homes. While her boys were young, she further donated her time and talents to the American Cancer Society and Easter Seals of Greater Waterbury. She was also an officer and president of the Waterbury Chapter of the National Secretaries Association. Her shorthand and typing skills were unsurpassed.
In 1973, she decided to pursue a career in Real Estate. She opened her own agency - “Elaine Graveline Real Estate” at a time when the industry was primarily male-dominated. Her advertisements even read “Elaine Graveline – an advocate for Women’s Lib”. She enjoyed a successful real estate career for many years. In the 80’s and 90’s, Elaine also served as an officer and president of the former Prospect Chamber of Commerce.
Prior to her career in Real Estate, in the early ‘60’s, she and her husband were instrumental in the formation of the American Legion Post 194 and the Ladies Auxiliary, where she served as a Vice President of the founding chapter. She remained an active member of the Auxiliary throughout the rest of her life and took great pride in their work in support of Veterans. Her family’s attendance at the Auxiliary’s annual Patriotic Hearts Valentine Dance fundraiser has become an epic tradition.
Elaine was a world traveler and loved immersing herself in the culture and adventure of each location she visited. Africa, Canada, England, France, Italy, Mexico and Spain were among her favorites, but her highlight was traveling to Egypt at 80 years old, with her son, Carl, to fulfill her dream of visiting the pyramids and riding a camel. As much as she loved traveling the world and was proud of her French-Canadian heritage, she was fervent in her love for the USA and honored to have 3 generations of air force members in the family. She was fascinated by airplanes and was very proud to have served in the Civil Air Patrol during WWII and often shared stories of her experiences as a ‘spotter’; she even spotted a U-boat once in Long Island Sound.
Anyone who knew Elaine knew that, in addition to dancing, fashion was her passion and dressing to the nines was a must. She loved to shop, knew all of the designers, the most recent trends - “It’s what they’re showing!”- and loved to share stories about her modeling days at Dorfmann’s, Worth’s and community fashion shows. Whenever she left the house, you could count on her always looking her very best, always fashionable, with her signature red hair perfectly styled.
Elaine loved birds, especially red cardinals, as well as flowers, antique glass, leopard print fabrics, Beefeater martinis, Hershey kisses, ice cream and her blue Mercedes. But, more than anything, Elaine cherished her family and their times together. Christmas Eve/Graveline Christmas was the highlight of the year, and there was never a shortage of music, dancing and laughter in the Graveline household. Elaine was very proud of “her five boys” and rejoiced at the birth of each grandchild, great grandchild and, most recently, her great-great granddaughter. For the grandchildren, Sunday morning pancakes after mass at St. Anthony’s became a time-honored tradition, and swimming at her pool in the summer made for life long memories. She was grateful for every small act of kindness shown to her and always told her family - and everyone - that she was “so lucky” and blessed to have “such a wonderful family.”
“Elaine”/ “Mom”/ “Grandma G” was a strong, independent woman who lived life to the fullest, gave back to her community, took great pride in being an American and loved her family with all her heart. Her light, love, laughter and spunk will be treasured always.
Left to mourn her passing and cherish her legacy of energy and love are her five sons: Gil (Kathleen) of Prospect, Kurt (Maryann) of Florida, Mark (Theresa), Carl, Leon (Mary) - all of Prospect, her 10 adult grandchildren: Kurt Jr., Evynne, Elizabeth, Kathryn, Leigh, Meghan, Nicole, Kenneth, Alex, and Zachary; great grand, Bailee, in addition to 15 great-grandchildren and 1 great-great grandchild.
In addition to her husband, Gene, Elaine was predeceased by her brothers Donald and Robert Bernier of Waterbury and her sister Mary Jane (Bernier) Morrissey of Fairfield.
Arrangements: Visitation will be held November 30, 2022 from 4 to 7 pm at Prospect Memorial/The Palmerie Family Funeral Home, 72 Waterbury Rd., Prospect. Elaine’s Funeral Mass will be on Thursday, December 1, 2022 at 11 am at St. Anthony Church, 4 Union City Rd., Prospect. All those planning to attend funeral services are asked to meet directly at the church.
The Graveline family would like to thank the staff of Hartford Healthcare Hospice for their compassionate care over the last months of Elaine’s illness and particularly are grateful for the loving care she received from her private aide, Gigi. In keeping with Elaine’s generous and patriotic heart, in lieu of flowers, if you so desire, memorial donations may be made to the American Legion Ladies Auxiliary, PO Box 7192, Prospect, CT 06712.