Martha Elizabeth Tucker Gracey peacefully passed away in her sleep on March 18 with family by her side. All six of her daughters were with her the previous day.
Martha was born on May 11, 1926, in Cameron, Texas, the youngest child born to Maude Vance Hardy Tucker and Jesse Clifton Tucker. Jesse was a banker in Cameron before the Great Depression, but when hard times fell on the banking business the family moved to San Antonio, where he found work hauling produce across the country. After living in San Antonio for several years, the family moved to Jesse’s hometown of Garland, Texas, where he was a descendant of one of Garland’s earliest families. Martha graduated in 1943 from Garland High School, where she was the drum major for the band. After attending Texas Technological College in Lubbock, Martha returned to Dallas to enroll at St. Paul Hospital School of Nursing to prepare to serve during World War II, if needed. Before completing her nurse training the war ended. She went on to receive her Registered Nurse degree in August 1948. During her hospital training, Martha’s head nurse, Marie Gracey, wanted her to meet her son, John, and accompany him to a fraternity dance at SMU. The couple fell in love and were married on October 16, 1948, at First Methodist Church, Garland.
Martha and John were blessed to welcome six daughters into their family. As the family grew, Martha was active at St. Mark Presbyterian Church in Dallas, where she and John were charter members, and she served as a ruling elder. She was active in the girls’ various school and extra-curricular activities, including PTA, Bluebirds, Camp Fire Girls and church. While the girls were in school, Martha returned to nursing part-time for Dr. Bob Speegle at Garland Clinic & Hospital. Martha’s other work-related roles always included helping people, either in a hospital or community outreach setting.
Martha was a great role model for her daughters. She loved people and felt called to care for them whether it be family, friend or her patients. When her daughters were young, she modeled taking care of her ill mother, her grandmother and later her husband when he died in 1982. She loved her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The noises and messes they made did not concern her. Martha felt “complete” when she was with family.
Martha lived by the philosophy that there is always room for one more, or even more. At the dinner table, it might mean sitting on the piano bench. At night, it might mean sleeping on the couch. She loved people so much and lit up when talking with others, even until her last days on earth.
Even though she suffered for years from crippling arthritis, Martha never complained and always told her caregivers, “Thank you.” Always! A woman of God, she represented many things, but especially caring, grace, strength, selflessness and love.
Martha is survived by her daughters and families, Jeanne and Mike Peavler and children John David Peavler; Kevin and Anne Peavler, Joshua and Julia; Krista and Kevin Bartos, Reese and Westin; Beth and Doug Morale and children Brian and Beatriz Morale, Harrison, Natalie, Patrick and Lauren; Amy and Nathan Calderon, Addy, Phineas, Daniel and Mina; Dotty and Philip Smith and children Sarah and Matt Franzen, Regan, Katherine and Max; Daniel and Brittany Smith, Jonah and Penelope; Ellen and Patrick Stelzer, Gracey, Luke and Jacob; Carol Vaughan and children Tracy and Jeff Cummins, Katelyn, Caroline and Logan; Lauren and Craig Chappell, Chloe, Caleb, Calvin Carsyn; Ryan and Christine Vaughan, Anderson, Austin and Emery; Barbara and Harald Hill and children Dianne and Nick Miller and Lauren; Stephanie and Steve Brown and Nolan; Rebecca and Robbie Moore and children Travis Moore, Katie and Jacob Martin and Bailey; Samantha Moore and Hannah Moore. A number of nieces, nephews and friends survive her.
Martha was reunited with her beloved husband of 33 years, John C. Gracey, Jr., her parents, and her siblings Clifton H. Tucker and Madlyn Tucker Nolan, her mother-in-law, Marie Buhrer Gracey and sister-in-law, Ann Gracey Williams.
A memorial service was held on April 22 at St. Mark Presbyterian Church, officiated by grandson, Rev. Daniel Smith, and close family friend Rev. Amy Isbell Hanschen.
The family would like to express their deepest appreciation to the staff at Brookdale of Lake Highlands, who loved and cared for their mother for several years, and most recently to Le Reve Rehabilitation and Memory Center. Martha willed her body to UT Southwestern Medical School. Interment is under the direction of Sparkman/Hillcrest in Dallas.
Memorial Donations in Martha Gracey’s memory may be made to St. Mark Presbyterian Church, 9999 Ferguson Rd., Dallas, Texas, 75228, or to White Rock Center of Hope, P.O. Box 180358, Dallas, Texas, 75218.