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James "Merritt" Graves '72 March 29, 2021 10:47 AM updated: March 29, 2021 11:07 AM

Dr. James Merritt Graves

James, age 80, of Mt. Juliet, TN, died March 16, 2021.

Merritt was born in Seminole, OK and was the son of the late, James Herman Graves and Gladys Elaine Merritt Graves. He grew up in the east Texas oil field of Joinerville. Merritt graduated from Gaston High School. He went on to earn his BS degree from Stephen F. Austin College in Nacoqdoches, TX, his Master’s degree from Whitter College in Whitter, CA and his PhD from Texas A&M in College Station, TX.

Merritt taught school in California, Texas and Tennessee. In Tennessee, he taught at Apollo, Murrell Special School, Glencliff High School and Peabody College. Merritt retired from teaching in 2002.

He was a CHYAA softball coach in Crieve Hall for many years and served on the CHYAA Board of Directors. Merritt established the Special Olympics program at Glencliff High School and continued to be involved with Special Olympics at Wilson Central High School even after he retired. After his retirement, he also taught GED classes at the Davidson County Jail, spent time researching family history and writing books.

Merritt was a veteran of the U.S. Navy and served on the USS Trathen (DD530) and the USS Galveston (CLG) during the Vietnam War. Merritt retired as a LTJG in 1966 after two tours of duty in Vietnam. He was a member of the USS Trathen Association and served as President for four years. Merritt was also a member of the Retired Officers Association and the Military Officers Association of America. He was an Honor Flight participant, a trip to Washington, DC honoring those who have served and sacrificed for our country. Merritt was a member of Victory Baptist Church.

In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his daughter, Amanda Lee Graves; brother, Tom Graves; sister-in-law, Janie Young and brothers-in-law, Jerry Young and Jimmy Boyd.

He is survived by:

Wife of 57 ½ years – Barbara Graves
Daughters – Melissa (Darren) Elrod and Merri Kay Graves
Sister – Kay Graves
Sister-in-law – Virginia Graves
Granddaughters – Paxton Elrod and Piper Elrod
Several nieces and nephews

Funeral services will be conducted 2 p.m. Sunday, March 21, 2021 at Bond Memorial Chapel with Rev. Chuck Groover officiating. For those who plan to attend, please wear a mask and practice social distancing.

Flowers accepted or memorials may be made to the Gaston Museum or Special Olympics.

Visitation will be one hour prior to service time Sunday at Bond Memorial Chapel, N. Mt. Juliet Road and Weston Drive, Mt. Juliet, TN. (615) 773-2663.

© 2013 by Bond Memorial Chapel

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