One of the remaining descendants of two early Jefferson families, Dorothy Brown McCasland Craver, has died in the house in which she was born on February 28, 1912.
Mrs. Craver, or “Dot” as she was affectionately known to all, died early the morning of November 26, 2016 bringing to a close a life of 104 years and nine months, all of which she made the most of.
Dot began her life in Jefferson, the first-born child of Horace C. Brown, Sr. and his wife, Marie Vesta Graham Brown. She was born in her grandmother Graham’s house on Delta Street in the west bedroom where her mother was born and where, later, her own daughter was born. She stayed often with her maternal grandmother, Texana Harris Graham, as well as with her paternal grandmother, Daisy Welch Brown, as a child and knew many of the elder Jefferson residents, gathering much of the town’s history directly from these people. When her parents moved to other cities such as New Orleans, St. Louis, Shreveport, Dallas and Ft. Worth, young Dorothy would visit each summer in Jefferson and often took care of her siblings, Horace, Jr., Jimmy, and Marie.
When the family settled in Ft. Worth for a few years, Dot finished her high school education in the Class of 1930 at Central High School and was very close to the family of her father’s twin brother George. When the Great Depression hit the country, the family moved back to Jefferson to live in the Graham house, which was then only occupied by her mother’s brother, Pierson Graham.
It was at this time that Dot began to develop her talent for writing and worked as a columnist at the Jimplecute office, which was then housed in the Brown building on Vale Street where her daughter now lives. After a brief marriage and divorce, she worked in several office jobs around the town, and later she and her sister, Marie, went to Shreveport to work at the beginning of WW2. During that period she met on a train ride and soon married a soldier, Kenneth Craver in the USAAC as he was traveling to his next station. From that time on, she travelled with him to wherever he was sent. including tours of duty in Orlando, San Antonio, Lubbock, London, England, Wiesbaden, Germany, and Albrook AFB located in the Panama Canal Zone. At each station, Dot took advantage of the culture by touring and visiting towns, cities, other countries (including a boat trip down the Amazon River) and made numerous trips by air and sea to visit family in Texas when possible. On one of those trips, she took her daughter, Marcia, back to England with her about the time King George IV died and the two travelled western Europe together for two years until returning to the states.
Dot worked as a secretary in the Civil Service during the entire 30-plus years she and Ken were attached to the USAF. Both she and Ken retired in Panama in 1973 and took a month-long trip by auto accompanied by her daughter and son-in-law, from Panama to Texas. Once in Texas, the two began to make plans to restore the old Graham house which they had purchased from the other heirs; a major undertaking since the 1885 house had not been updated in many decades. When it was finished, Dot researched and applied for a Texas historical marker. The Texas Historical Medallion and the Historical Marker for Capt Graham were approved and dedicated soon after.
Dot’s writing began again as her interest in history and genealogy grew. She was the founder of the Marion County Genealogical Society; a past president of the Jessie Allen Wise Garden Club and the Carnegie Library Board; a member of the Marion County Historical Commission (with an award named for her); Daughter of the Republic of Texas; United Daughters of the Confederacy and was working on admission to the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Mayflower Descendants. She wrote and published a number of books including I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing (a travelogue of her interesting life); This Old Church (a history of Christ Episcopal Church); and A Dog Named Cat.
She edited at least two books, one written by her grandfather Brown entitled Sorrel Top: The Boy from The Sticks and The Jimmy Book, a compilation of columns and essays written by her brother, Jimmy, during his stint as a columnist for several newspapers following a 30-yr career in the USAF.
Her interest in arts and entertainment flourished as a child during her early years in Ft. Worth and elsewhere, but blossomed when she was selected to be an assistant to a local magician who was also the local Episcopal minister at the time. A cradle Episcopalian, she played the organ at Christ Church on Sunday and for special events for over thirty years and worked closely with other organists in the vicinity. She also put together the annual Presentation of the Colors for the church based on historical fact she found in researching the history. Dot participated in several musical productions with the Opera House Theatre Players, Jefferson’s community theatre, and became the President of the group nearly twenty years ago claiming the title of “the oldest, living community theatre president IN THE WORLD!” – and she took it very seriously and worked very hard to help keep the group afloat. One outstanding accomplishment was her warm friendship with Mary Rodgers Guettel, the daughter of famed composer Richard Rodgers. The letter writing friendship soon evolved into a deeper relationship resulting in a New York City visit with Mary and her family and several monetary gifts to the Players. She was profiled several times by Rick Rowe of Channel 3 and attracted media attention every place she went. The Players recently named an award after her and present it each year to someone who attracts attention to Jefferson.
When Dot reached her 95th birthday, her family began to fete her with extravagant, themed, fun parties, each one getting better than the last one. When her 100th birthday arrived, a large gathering was held at the visitor center complete with a floor show and retro-band that played music of the 20s, 30s, and 40s. Her final birthday party in February of this year was a “Sinatra and the Rat Pack” theme due to her love of Frank’s vocal stylings which were featured.
Dot was pre-deceased by her parents, Horace and Vesta; her brother Horace, Jr. and his wife Merle and their children Clifton and Kenny; her brother Jimmy and his wife Sonja; her sister Marie and husband Dalton; her son-in-law Donald; and her husband of 57 years, Ken Craver.
She is survived by her daughter, Marcia Thomas; grandchildren Karl “Tam” Thomas, his daughter Heather and her son Haggen; Christopher “Kip” Thomas, his wife, Cela, and daughter Catherine; and nephews Frank Durrum and wife Carolanne and children; Jim Durrum and wife Margaret and children; niece Peggy Ann Brown and children; and numerous Brown and Graham cousins.
The family would especially like to extend love and appreciated to Florence Jackson, Marion Oney, the Marshall Home Health and Hospice Care; Artie and Marguarite Hawthorne, Dana Ramsey, the City of Jefferson Police Department, and all who so kindly looked after our little Dorothy over the many months.
Pallbearers will be her grandsons Christopher and Karl Thomas and nephews Jim and Frank Durrum. Honorary Pallbearers are Florence Jackson, Marion Oney, Wayman Moore, Bill Westbrook, David Ozee, Morris Pentecost, Norman Callison, members of Christ Church, the Opera House Theatre Players and all her dear friends.
Funeral services will be held on Tuesday, November 29 at Christ Episcopal Church at 11 AM and a visit with the family beginning 10 AM in the Parish Hall. Burial will be at Oakwood Cemetery beside her husband. Memorials may be sent to the Sanctuary Light Fund (indicates reserve sacrament is present) of Christ Church; the Oakwood Cemetery Fund, the Opera House Theatre Players, or a charity of your choice.
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