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Teacher's faith was the cornerstone of her life

| Saturday, June 4, 2005

Two months ago, Thelma Walsh was still driving her car and delivering meals to shut-ins who were years younger.

Leading a busy and fulfilling life was a normal progression that began during the years she was a student at Punxsutawney High School in Indiana County, where she played the violin in the orchestra, was a member of the Thespian Society and active in the Junior Red Cross.

Thelma R. Graff Walsh, of Ross, died of congestive heart failure Thursday, June 2, 2005, in UPMC Passavant, McCandless. She was 90.

"My mother was not only a caring and giving person, but a woman who enjoyed having fun," said her son, Robert Graff. "She was great at entertaining, whether it was at our home or with her AARP group."

Born and raised on a farm in Punxsutawney, Mrs. Walsh was one of two daughters of Charles and Elizabeth Smith Lindy.

"A notation in the 1933 Punxsutawney High School Yearbook described my mother as a student who was never in a hurry, but got things done," Graff said. "It was also noted that she was jolly and a lot of fun to be with."

Following graduation from high school, Mrs. Walsh enrolled at Indiana Normal College, Indiana County, with the hope of obtaining a teaching certificate.

"But those were Depression years," her son said. "There were few jobs available in her area, so she decided to move to Pittsburgh in order to find employment so she could complete her education."

She met Walter Graff, a resident of the North Side, while attending a music recital given by the percussionist. They were married in 1937.

Mr. Graff, who was employed in sales for the former Chatfield & Woods Co., died in 1963. Three years later, she married John Walsh, a U.S. postal employee, who died in 1998.

Mrs. Walsh was devoted to her Lutheran faith. She was a member of St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church, Ross, and a former member of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, North Side, where she taught Sunday school.

"My brother, Harold, and I were both her Sunday school pupils," Graff said. "And we were expected to be in class on Sundays."

Mrs. Walsh taught religious education programs in the Avalon and Bellevue public schools. "All public school students were required at that time to attend a religious class several times a month," her son said.

Mrs. Walsh is survived by two sons, Harold Graff and his wife, Ann, of Flagstaff, Ariz., and Dr. Robert Graff and his wife, Christine, of Sedona, Ariz.; four grandchildren, Bradford Graff, of Portland, Ore., Tamara Cordova, of Las Vegas, Nathaniel Graff, of New Orleans, and Karen Graff, of Oakmont; and a great-granddaughter, Elizabeth Cordova.

Visitation is from 6 to 9 p.m. Sunday at Devlin Funeral Home, 806 Perry Highway, Ross. Services will be at 10 a.m. Monday in St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church, Ross.

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