The last time I saw Jean Graham she graciously comforted me about my mother's recent passing. I was covering the first collaboration between Skaneateles School's young art students and the Skaneateles Library. It was very stressful to be out in public around so many people. I certainly didn't feel up to much interaction, but wanted to report on this momentous event. To have your work displayed in public is quite an occasion, at any age.
After mingling around the stacks and the colorful, clever artwork, I was drawn to Jean's sweet face and calming presence. She just knew how I was really feeling amidst that celebration, and took time out to make it all better. She was exercising yet again her classic teacher intuition.
I also learned that day that she was in charge of the children's books, and I remember thinking that our children were in really good hands. Your first books stay with you for life; those stories truly matter as we find our way. We really do reflect back to their humor, images, characters and lessons.
When I heard of Jean's sudden death, it was such a shock. I couldn't help but think about her vibrancy that day with her absolute delight to be part of our library, our schools, our lives.
Hundreds of people turned out for her funeral at the First Presbyterian Church on March 19. I had family visiting who came back from a trip downtown and said, "What's going on, the village is packed with people!"
It wasn't the festival or the boat show or Dickens Christmas, instead it was the people whose lives had been touched by Jean Graham.
One in particular was the violin sensation, Hilary Hahn, who performed Bach Andante from Sonata No. 2 in A minor, BMV 1003 at Jean's service. She had met the Grahams while attending our internationally recognized yearly chamber music event, The Skaneateles Festival. The Grahams had hosted her in their home during her many visits to perform in the festival.