Letha Jo Gradel
Jan. 6, 1930 - Jan. 9, 2020
Letha Jo Gradel passed away Thursday, January 9, 2020. Services will be 1:30 p.m., Wednesday, January 15, 2020, at Wilkirson-Hatch-Bailey Chapel with Fr. Don Loftin and Deacon Greg George officiating. Burial will follow at Oakwood Cemetery. Visitation will be 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., Tuesday, January 14, 2020, at Wilkirson-Hatch-Bailey Funeral Home.
Letha was born January 6, 1930, in Otto, TX, to William Oscar Grisham and Eva Geneva Grisham.
Around the age of 12, with the passing of her father, the family moved to Houston for a short time. In 1943, they then moved to Waco where she attended school and graduated from Waco High School in 1947. Letha attended 4-C Business College and later attended Baylor University while working at the Baylor library. One regret Letha had in her lifetime was not obtaining her college degree. She said, "I was just having too much fun!" However, she instilled the importance of education in all of her children.
After attending college, she worked at various jobs over the years including James Connally Air Force Base, General Tire, and the YWCA. Joining the advancement of entrepreneurship by women in the early 1970's, Letha and a good friend, Ruth Steinke, owned and operated Dupriest Employment Agency for several years. She later went to work for Brazos River Authority as a receptionist, then retiring after 22 years of service to care for her husband, Mark Sr.
While she worked at General Tire, she met the love of her life, Mark Gradel Sr. They were married for 44 years. They raised four children and enjoyed traveling to Navy reunions throughout the country. Letha also volunteered at the VA Medical Center and Providence Hospital after Mark's death.
Both Mark and Letha came from large families and reunions were a major part of their lives. On the way to her 90th birthday celebration with family, and just a few days before her death, Letha said, "I like when we all get together!" Even though she suffered from dementia, Letha acknowledged family was still important.
She was preceded in death by her parents, and husband, Mark Sr.
Letha is survived by her daughters, Regina Mathews and husband, Don of Huntsville, Vickie Madrigal of Austin, Sondra and husband, Mike of Waco; son, Mark Jr. and wife, Ellen of Waco; sister, Bobbie Christian of Waco; grandchildren, Don Mathews II, John Mathews, Aaron Mathews, Brittany Madrigal, Jordan Madrigal, Katrina Sonnier and husband, Brian, Alex Gradel, Layne Russell, Cameron Russell and Brett Russell; great-grandchildren, Madalyn Sonnier, Sarah Jane Sonnier; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Pallbearers are Don Mathews II, John Mathews, Aaron Mathews, Jordan Madrigal, Layne Russell, Cameron Russell, Brett Russell and Brian Sonnier.
The family would like to thank the staff and caregivers at Heartis Waco for all the compassionate care they showed Letha for the last three years of her life.
Memorials may be made to the Alzheimer's Association, Providence Hospice or to a charity of your choice. The family invites you to leave a message or memory on our "Tribute Wall" at www.WHBfamily.com