Cover photo for Olive B. Graffam's Obituary
Olive B. Graffam Profile Photo

Olive B. Graffam

Olive Blair Graffam, 85, passed away on April 22, 2017 due to complications from lymphoma, at her home in Arlington, VA.  Born in Fouke, Mississippi, her early life was spent moving north along the Natchez Trace while her father served as a civil engineer involved in its construction.  Her family ultimately settled in Florence, Alabama.

Olive later attended Union College, graduating Magna Cum Laude in 1953, and became a high school teacher from 1954-1956, before attending Officer Candidate School in Newport, RI, and receiving her commission as an Ensign in the United States Navy in December of 1956.  She served in Washington, DC where she met her husband, Captain Earl H. Graffam, also a Naval Officer; they were married in 1959.  She received her Honorable Discharge in 1964, after which she served as a military spouse moving throughout the United States and spending two years stationed in Bahrain.  After Captain Graffam’s retirement, Olive attended George Washington University, earning her Master’s Degree in American Civilization.

She went on to a career at the Daughters of the American Revolution Museum, with special expertise in silver, samplers, portraiture and graphic arts, Southern nineteenth-century material culture and social history, and American decorative arts.  Prior to joining the DAR museum, she served many years as a volunteer research assistant and docent at the Smithsonian’s Museum of American History.  She began her work with the DAR as a curatorial assistant in 1985.  She was an accomplished speaker and author and mounted numerous significant exhibits during her tenure.  She retired from her position as Curator of Collections in 2016.

She is survived by her son, Earl H. “Skip” Graffam, Jr., grandson Austin Graffam, sisters Jane Gough, Anne Burleson, and Laura Moody, and brother Jim Blair.

Graveside services and interment will be held on Monday, September 25 at 3 p.m. at Arlington National Cemetery, followed by a memorial service at Rock Spring Congregational United Church of Christ, 5010 Little Falls Rd, Arlington, VA at 5:30 p.m. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, 875 N. Randolph St., Suite 225, Arlington, VA 22203-1757, (800) 654-8364.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Olive B. Graffam, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Monday, September 25, 2017

3:00 - 4:00 pm (Eastern time)

Arlington National Cemetery

, Arlington, VA

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Memorial Service

Monday, September 25, 2017

5:30 - 6:30 pm (Eastern time)

Rock Spring Congregational United Church of Christ

5010 Little Falls Road, Arlington, VA 22207

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


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