Sunny Mae Bondurant Graves of Knoxville, Oak Ridge, and Tullahoma, Tennessee, died Friday, August 15, 2014.
She was born October 20, 1925 in Fountain City, Tennessee.
Sunny is predeceased by her husband, William Osborne Graves, and her parents, Elsie Mae Morgan Bondurant and James Sylvan Bondurant of Knoxville.
Sunny’s happy disposition began in the cradle, and inspired the name by which she was known. Challenges in the Great Depression led her family to buy an old home in a rural setting on Buffat Mill Road, an adventure Sunny remembered fondly. Ear problems as a child and later surgeries left Sunny deaf in one ear and partially deaf in the other, but thankfully, this didn’t diminish her lifelong love of music, playing piano, accordion, and organ, and directing choirs.
She graduated from Central High School of Knoxville in 1944, attended Sullins College in Bristol, VA, and graduated in 1948 from the University of Tennessee with a major in Mathematics and minors in Library Science and Music. She was a member of Phi Mu Sorority, Mortar Board, Pi Lambda Theta, and Phi Kappa Phi. She completed her Masters in Mathematics at the University of Tennessee (1972), taught Mathematics at Jefferson Junior High School (1969-1982), and was Math Coordinator for the Oak Ridge School System from 1982 until her retirement in June 1985.
Sunny met Bill Graves in the UT Chorus and they were married in August 1948. Sunny and Bill had three children, and moved to Oak Ridge in 1958, where Bill began a career in industrial management at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The family shared a love of the outdoors, and they enjoyed camping trips, swimming at the lake, mountain hikes, gardening, and quiet days at the farm in Cumberland County.
Church fellowship was at the center of Sunny’s life, and she enjoyed serving churches and her community through music. Sunny directed Youth and Children’s Choirs at First United Methodist Church in Oak Ridge (1959-1969). She was an associate member of Middlebrook Pike United Methodist Church, Knoxville, and a member of Faith Lutheran Church, Tullahoma. She sang for many years in the Middlebrook church choir as well as the O’Connor Singing Singers. She organized and directed the Shannonham Singers for 20 years, a group that continues today as the Shannondale Singers.
Sunny is survived by a sister, Betty Bondurant Triplett of Cleveland, TN; three children: Kenneth (Theo) Graves of Graham, Washington, Linda (Marty) Nutter of Tullahoma, and James (Kathy Doyle) Graves of Middletown Springs, Vermont; eight grandchildren: James Graves of Chewelah, Washington, Katherine Graves Dunivan of Tacoma, Washington, Ruth Nutter Stevenson of Reading, Pennsylvania, David Nutter of Johnson City, Jonathan Nutter of St. Petersburg, Florida, Seth Nutter of Knoxville, and John Graves and Daniel Graves of Middletown Springs, Vermont; and eight great grandchildren.
Visitation will be Monday, August 18, 2014, from 6:30-8:30 pm at Rose Mortuary Mann Heritage Chapel, on Kingston Pike in Knoxville.
A Memorial Service celebrating Sunny’s life will be held Tuesday, August 19, at 2:30 pm at Middlebrook Pike United Methodist Church.
The family suggests that in memory of Sunny we sing joyful songs, and that memorials be directed to Middlebrook Pike United Methodist Church, Faith Lutheran Church of Tullahoma, or the memorial of your choice.