At the beach, our first visit home to California in 1969
William Francis McGraw
  • 93 years old
  • Date of birth: Oct 19, 1918
  • Place of birth:
    Grafton, North Dakota, United States
  • Date of passing: Mar 18, 2012
  • Place of passing:
    At his home in Front Royal surrounded by family in, Virginia, United States
"Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon him. May his soul and all the souls of the faithful departed through the Mercy of God rest in peace."

This memorial website was created in memory of my beloved husband, William McGraw, who was a loving husband, devoted father and grandfather, faithful friend and loyal Catholic. We will remember him forever.

 When we were raising our kids Bill would lead us in prayer and the rosary every night. Bill would always include, as part of our prayer petitions that we should all pray for the grace of a happy and holy death. Bills own father William had died of tuberculosis when Bill was only 11 years old. He loved his father dearly and watched his father’s death.  After Bill left this earth we found the "Prayer for a Happy Death" composed by St John Newman. Since Bill had a great devotion to Cardinal Newman I believe that he knew about this prayer.  

 Prayer for a Happy Death  
 My Lord and my Savior, support me in that hour in the strong arms of Thy Sacraments, and by the fresh fragrance of Thy consolations. Let the absolving words be said over me, and the holy oil sign and seal me, and Thy Own Body be my food, and Thy Blood my sprinkling;  and let my sweet Mother Mary, breathe on me, and my Angel whisper peace to me, and my glorious Saints ... smile upon me: that in them all and through them all , I may receive the gift of perseverance; and die, as I desire to live, in Thy faith, in Thy Church, in Thy service, and in Thy love. Amen 
-St John Newman  

This was a favorite prayer of his which he learned and taught his family to say by heart.

The Star of Morn

The star of morn tonight succeeds,
We therefore meekly pray,
May God and all our words and deeds
Keep us from harm this day

 May He in love restrain us still
From tones and words of ill
And wrap around and close our eyes
To earth’s absorbing vanities

 May wrath and thoughts that gender shame
Ne’re in our breast abide
And painful abstinences tame
Of wanton flesh the pride

 So when the weary day is o’er
And night and stillness come once more,
Blameless and clean from spot on earth
We may repeat with reverent mirth

 To God the Father glory be
And to His only Son
And to the Holy Spirit, One in Three
While endless ages run. 


Memorial Tributes
This tribute was added by Andrew Clark on 26th October 2017

"Pray for me grandpa as I try and follow in your footsteps to a life of virtue rooted in Christ. Through your intersession may my foolish pride be tamed and my heart be filled with God alone. Amen."

This tribute was added by Onalee McGraw on 19th October 2017

"Dear Bill, Yes, my dearest Bill, today is your birthday. I love you more today it seems than even I did when we were here on earth together. I miss you, but your folks that are still here are carrying on."

This tribute was added by Tom McGraw on 18th March 2017

"Today is the fifth anniversary of Dad passing into eternity. We had an amazing day today with the entire family attending Mass at Mom's home, and then visiting with Mom. It was so nice to recall little stories about Dad with everyone. It is still amazing to me to recall that somehow, even at the moment of his death, some of us who were present experienced a mysterious joy. This is still a great wonder to me. But I believe God's graces were in great abundence in that hour, and at the moment of his death. Dad had been praying for a happy death, after all, so perhaps I should not be so surprised! Dad was so loving and peaceful. Yes, he sometimes had an Irish temper, but he was truly a peaceful man who taught us to be at peace with God. We love you Dad!"

This tribute was added by Margaret Whitehead on 18th March 2017

"Bill was a blessing to all who knew him.  How could we ever forget the wonderful times we had with him and Onalee.
Love, Margaret Whitehead"

This tribute was added by Tom McGraw on 19th October 2016

"Happy Birthday Dad!!! You were always so generous to everybody and yet you never expected anyone to give you any presents on your birthday. Whenever we asked what you might like for your birthday, you would just say: "Maybe a nice chocolate bar and a big glass of milk with ice in it." When I would try to say that I agreed with you about the chocolate bar, but that I didn't like ice in my milk, you would just cheerfully say: "Well, you don't know what's good." This was a very disarming response and now as a dad myself, I understand what a genius you were when you would say this to me in such a good natured manner. Thank you for always teaching me what was good!!!! Love you!"

This tribute was added by Deanna Turner on 19th October 2016

"I remember the kindness and holiness of Bill McGraw and I'm so grateful to have been able to help in a little way to care for him during his last while on earth.  He died a happy and holy death and it was a real privilege to be there at his passing into Eternal Life."

This tribute was added by Onalee McGraw on 19th October 2016

"Dearest Bill ,
Today is your birthday. I remember that you and I did not always pay very much attention to our birthdays. Now with you passed into eternity these 4 years, it seems much more eternally important. Happy birthday my darling, from the wife who loves you more than ever in life.  Thank you for the love and life you shared with me for 48 years."

This tribute was added by Shenandoah Sierra on 18th March 2016

"Although I  never got the chance to meet Mr. McGraw in person I feel that I know him well through  the stories that his dear wife, Onalee  has told me.  Getting to know and befriend mrs. McGraw and the rest of the family has been such a blessing. I am  grateful for the legacy he has left ."

This tribute was added by Tom McGraw on 18th March 2016

"Four years ago today, at about 2:30 p.m. in the afternoon, Dad passed into eternity. Our entire family was so blessed to be able to be by his side for two days and two nights, leading up to his final moments on earth. As he lay peacefully on his bed, we spoke with him for hours about the wonderful things he had done for his family. In the final minutes we had with him here on earth, we prayed the rosary, the divine mercy chaplet, and sang Faith of Our Fathers to him, as a warm breeze blew through his bedroom window. He was even mouthing the words as we sang this hymn, which was his favorite. His final breath came just as Faith of Our Fathers ended. It was the most beautiful death one could ever imagine. He had always prayed for a happy and holy death, and our Lord had granted his prayer, on the eve of St. Joseph, patron saint of a happy death."

This tribute was added by Onalee McGraw on 28th December 2015

"Dear Bill - 52 years ago this day we were married at St. Matthew's Cathedral in Washington DC. You are the love of my life, Bill. Happy Anniversary!!!"

This tribute was added by Onalee McGraw on 19th October 2015

"On Bill's birthday today, I can only say I feel him as close to me as ever. He will always be the love of my life in this world and hope and joy at being with him in the next world. Bill you have left a wonderful legacy of love and gratitude and you are  remembered with joy every day. Your loving wife, Onalee"

This tribute was added by Margaret Whitehead on 19th October 2015

"When Bill was born, someone special came into the world and later, into our lives.  We are grateful for his friendship over many years and we are happy to remember him on his special day.  We pray for all the McGraws, too."

This tribute was added by Tom and Judy Lickona on 22nd March 2015

"Thanks so much for including us in your mailing. We loved seeing the photos of Onalee and Bill. Reading Onalee's beautiful tribute to him on Feb. 17 brought tears to our eyes.  And we are very grateful for Cardinal Newman's "Prayer for a Happy Death," which we did not know about and which we'll share with friends and family. Thank you, Bill.  God grant you everlasting joy."

This tribute was added by Onalee McGraw on 17th February 2015

"In just a few weeks it will be the third anniversary of Bill's passing from this earth. on March 18th...2015 ...... I feel  his presence and his love as vividly as ever..., remembering when we were standing on the Washington Mall when Pope John Paul II proclaimed, "Human life is forever."  I love you, Bill,  forever...."

This tribute was added by Shenandoah Sierra on 20th October 2014

"A day late, but I just want to remember an incredible man, who even though I never got to meet has left an impact on my life.  I know you are at peace, dear Mr. McGraw, so please share some of that peace with us.  

This tribute was added by Margaret Whitehead on 19th October 2014

"We remembered Bill today--how could we forget our wonderful friend-- and said special prayers for him at Mass this morning.  We pray for Onalee and all his family every day.
Love and blessings,
Margaret and Ken"

This tribute was added by Onalee McGraw on 15th May 2014

"Bill - You know what your granddaughter said today? Grandpa knew how to accept help when  he had to - Yet - you were your same old wonderful - direct self - Remember when Jason lifted up your wheelchair to go to the sun room - and you said: "This is a wheelchair, not an airplane!" I muss you Bill and I love you forever!!!"

This tribute was added by Katherine Scott on 24th March 2014

"I remember the first time I officially met Mr. McGraw at his home; I was struck with the impression that he was a good, patient, humble, man who loved his family very much. This impression was only strengthened when I had the privileged of living with the McGraws for about four months.  He struck me as a man of few, but carefully chosen words.  Though the death of a loved one is never an easy thing for those left behind, when the dearly departed has lived a life of virtue it is such a consolation to reflect on the legacy he has left behind.  Mr. McGraw's legacy is a strong one and will live on in his loving wife, children and grandchildren.  One thing that has struck me about the McGraw family is that they don't just sit around and hope for the world to be changed for the better, they actively labor to bring about the change they wish to see.  So many people have been touched by the good that this man and his family have done.  What a legacy to be proud of.  Rest in Peace, Mr.McGraw, I am sure you are interceeding for us before the throne of God."

This tribute was added by Tom McGraw on 18th March 2014

"Just got off the phone with mom on this two year anniversary of dad's passing into eternity. Mom and I shared about an hour or so of great memories. I think about dad every day, and thank God that He blessed me with such a wonderful father. Dad's wisdom and love are gifts that will last for a lifetime. May the soul of William Francis McGraw rest in peace. Tomorrow is the feast of St. Joseph, patron of a happy death. St. Joseph, pray for us!"

This tribute was added by Margaret Whitehead on 18th March 2014

"Bill continues to be a special person in our lives and our memories.  We all prayed for him and for his wonderful family today.
Love and blessings,
Margaret and Ken Whitehead"

This tribute was added by Deanna Turner on 18th March 2014

"I will never forget this remarkable Catholic gentleman.  It was an honor and privilege to care for him during his last days here on earth. I will always remember his kindness and humor."

This tribute was added by Beverly Sottile-Malona on 17th March 2014


I posted this link at Onalee's request. The Book of Kells~ an expression of the Faith, the blood, and the humor of the land and its people. (It must be cut and pasted to a browser)

Bill was very much apart of my life. Onalee and I, colleagues at first, and soon to become great friends, spent many a day strategizing via phone about the many projects in which we were involved. No phone conversation was ever complete without Bill's sage advice and great conversation. Bill seemed to always know that I was on the other end of the line and soon a two way conversation became a conference call! I finally got to meet Bill when he accompanied Onalee to Buffalo. My husband and he got on very well. We went to Niagara Falls on what turned out to be a very grey rainy day. My husband took many pictures that day with his pride and joy a Nikon camera. He had no doubt that those pictures would be great. When they came back from the developer, all were grey with simple shadows of  us. Did it really matter? Bill McGraw will be forever a clear memory of my mind's eye-his lovely voice, his sense of humor, his great respect and love for Onalee and his always knowing that the person on the other end of the phone conversation was me-"Onalee is that Bev Malona on the phone?""

This tribute was added by Lois Theis on 15th March 2014

"Earthly time passes so fast as we  watch the lives of a loved one flit by in our photographic world.  How God has blessed Bill and Onalee through their meeting and sharing the reality of love between two persons committed in marriage--for love and life.  Thank you for being long-distance friends as we meet "old age" and draw closer to learning the secret of life after death!  May Bill McGraw be exalted in the presence of God!  May his family find peace in the love of God's presence in our time."

This tribute was added by Onalee McGraw on 6th March 2014

"To my dear Bill -  Today ---- a wonderful quote from my spiritual Godfather, . C. S. Lewis,  came to my attention and how it speaks to me about us ..... "There are far better things ahead than what we left behind.""

This tribute was added by Onalee McGraw on 1st March 2014

"Today was an incredibly special day.  The dear friends of so many years of Bill and myself - Ken and Margaret Whitehead - came to visit  me as they have so many times since Bill left this earth - little did we know that the  bronze plate that  has the engraving - "William F. McGraw - Loving Husband and Father: - was to be installed this  very morning  at the memorial park after over a year and a half of  delay and confusion - a wonderful morning as the Whiteheads and I shared our memories of Bill with the two kind men who gave up their Saturday to help get the bronze properly installed.  After these good men left, we sang "Faith of our Fathers"  - Bill's favorite hymn and said some prayers. The joy of this completely unplanned and unexpected event this morning and the sense of  Providential help being received was very wonderful."

This tribute was added by Michelene Krebs on 13th February 2014

"This is a great idea Onalee--My first remembrance of Bill is meeting him and Father Steve McGraw who was not a priest yet--at the Fairfax Curia meeting for the Legion of Mary --he walked over to me to me to encourage me to carry out and persevere in a work that I had just proposed to all Praesidiums --leaf letting at Dulles airport and so I pursued it and we did leaflet passing for several years at Dulles with the authorities there permission--thanks Father Steve and Bill RIP Bill"

This tribute was added by Mary S. on 10th February 2014

"While working with Onalee at Educational Guidance Institute while we were working under the federal grant, I was blessed to have some interaction with Bill through Onalee.  Even though I never got to know him terribly well, he did not fail to make an impact on me!  

I was touched by his kindness.  I could see he was a devoted father and husband.  Most of all, there was a light coming from his life at that time.  He was so happy!  It was clearly Bill's Catholic faith which was that light: his life was deep and rich because of Christ.  

I had not yet received the blessing of seeing an elderly person going through the spiritual process of preparing for death.  Even though I only received a glimpse into Bill's life in that regard, it made an impact on me.  In an era when age isn't appreciated by the modern world for the spiritual richness and growth it can provide, it was a blessing in my life to see Bill live out his Catholic faith in that way, and to see Onalee's role in that - even now."

This tribute was added by Onalee McGraw on 2nd January 2014

"Bill and I were married 50 years ago on December 28, 1963. More than ever now, I love the fact that our anniversary falls within the season of celebrating the birth of our Lord. This year we assembled to celebrate being together at our home. Our three kids and their kids.  Delighted that  we have had over 1,000 visits to our website!!!"

This tribute was added by Shenandoah Sierra on 19th October 2013

"Though I never got to meet you, Bill,  from what I heard of you I know we'd have hit it off really well!  You have a beautiful family and I am blessed to have gotten to know them.  When I was working with Mrs. McGraw and we'd hit a wall in our work she would say a prayer to you and we always made it through.  I see that your life has touched so many and that is why we still celebrate you."

This tribute was added by Margaret Whitehead on 19th October 2013

"We have said special prayers for Bill and his wonderful family on this anniversary of his 95th birthday.  Special people like Bill McGraw continue to live on in our hearts and to inspire us.

Love and blessings to all the McGraws,
Margaret and Ken"

This tribute was added by Onalee McGraw on 18th October 2013

"Tomorrow is Bill's birthday - 50 years ago on this day we started in earnest to plan our wedding for December 28, 1963 at St. Matthew's Cathedral in Washington DC -  Some of our wedding pictures are  posted here on the site. Over 1,000 visits to the site - a tribute to a wonderful guy - my Bill. ,"

This tribute was added by Gabrielle Tuttle on 21st May 2013

"It is a privilege to have known Mr. McGraw, and even though he has left this life, I am happy to still be learning edifying accounts of his life. May he rest in peace, and may we all meet again."

This tribute was added by Brian Jurkowski on 21st May 2013

"So sorry for your loss; I've been out of the loop.  My family and I will pray for you.  He was a great man and an inspiration."

This tribute was added by Andrew Armstrong on 15th May 2013

""My brother in the Legion of Mary, Bill McGraw,  was a true inspiration in his perseverance, his love of Our Queen and Our Mother, his thorough knowledge of the Faith, his love for The Truth, his Humility during his years in the Church Militant...  And now he's gotta (sic) be still serving Her with the Church Triumphant!""

This tribute was added by Onalee McGraw on 10th May 2013

"It has been about 14 months since my Bill left this earth. I find that I can miss him so much each day  and yet feel his presence - so very near to me. . I will always be grateful to God for the wonderful and loving man He sent to me. I am deeply grateful for the over 500 visits to Bill's website here at Forever  Missed. ."

This tribute was added by Deanna Turner on 18th March 2013

"It's hard to believe it has been a year since Bill passed into eternal life.  He was and is a wonderful example to me and I have so blessed to get to know him.May the Lord bless and comfort Onalee and her family as they mark the one year mark of Bill's passing."

This tribute was added by Margaret Whitehead on 10th March 2013

"On Laetare Sunday, we remember the many reasons that we had to rejoice in our friendship with Bill.  He and his wonderful wife and family are in our hearts and prayers."

This tribute was added by Peter Orlowski on 6th January 2013

"I had the good fortune of living as a boarder with Bill and Onalee right up to their last days in McLean, just before they moved to Front Royal, during which time this amazing couple were working on the book, "Love and Marriage at the Movies".  Bill was always full of great stories, from real life or fiction.  I miss him dearly!"

This tribute was added by Steven Wood on 18th December 2012

"As a member of the Legion of Mary, I had the good fortune to visit Mr. McGraw several times.  Although when I met him he was already declining in health and spoke very little, I could see what sort of man he was by the way his family and friends lovingly spoke with him.  It was like looking at the ripples in a pond--large ripples indicate a great stone.  Mr. McGraw left large ripples."

This tribute was added by Jason Sparks on 19th November 2012

"Mr. McGraw was always a man of character and honesty--an honesty was not motivated by social expectations.  I remember how he would sit in his living room, surrounded by family and friends, and just listen to the general conversation going on around him.  When asked to give his opinion, he would do so in a very brief and decisive way that was abrupt, but surprisingly refreshing."

This tribute was added by Nancy Anderson on 31st October 2012

"It was an honor to know Bill McGraw. He was a gentleman, a kind man, a holy man.
One of my fond memories is that when Onalee and I traveled together by car for EGI work over the years, we'd call Bill as we were leaving to return home and he always asked us if the car doors were locked. I'm sure that he's looking out for Onalee's safety now from heaven!"

This tribute was added by Margaret Whitehead on 19th October 2012

"Bill was a wonderful friend and an inspiration for many years.  We miss him dearly and we pray for him daily.  We also hope that he hasn't forgotten us and is looking out for us from heaven.  We especially remember him on his birthday.   You can be sure the Whiteheads won't forget that October 19th is his special day!
Love and blessings to all the McGraws."

This tribute was added by Heather Lawrence on 6th August 2012

"I remember the 1st time I visited the McGraw house. My legion partner and I listened intently as Mrs. McGraw told us many fascinating stories. I was deeply touched by looking over at Mr. McGraw  throughout  the visit, as he beamed with pride at all his wife had done. It was truly beautiful to see the love they shared and still share."

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Onalee McGraw


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