Joseph Bryan Graves

Joseph Bryan Graves

On Christmas Eve 1921, a “star” was born in Sparta, Georgia to Richard Augustus and Meta Bryan Graves.  The middle son, he was named Joseph Bryan.  His family called him “Bryan”, but as years went by, he was known to others as “Rag”. Bryan moved to Jacksonville with his family at a young age. At the age of 97, Bryan died on July 24, 2019 after a brief illness, at his family’s home in Ortega where he lived most of his life.  He was predeceased by his parents, his older brother Dick (Betty), and his younger brother Ed (Tayloe).  He is survived by his devoted nephews Richard “Rag” (Sarah), Bob, Holt (Betty Ann), Corbin (Barbara) and Bryan Graves; great niece Aaren Graves, great-nephews Corbin (Byerly) and Lawton (Sarah) Graves; and cousins Meta Magavney and Elizabeth Howard. He also leaves behind his loyal friends in the Towers-Van Cleve-Manning families.

Bryan worked as hard as he played.  In 1995, he retired from Cedar Hills Utility Company after 40 years in the utility services industry.  Bryan was part of the crew responsible for the infrastructure in many developments of Northeast Florida.

His passion was boats and the St. Johns River and its tributaries.  He built, raced and sailed boats and was always ready for an adventure with his friends down the Oklawaha River. He spent hours teaching his younger friends to water ski, ride horses, hit a tennis ball, vaccinate cows, service tractors, trap rattle snakes and plant 4000 pine seedlings by hand!  He was always available to help family, friends and neighbors with their projects – whether it was moving to a new home, preparing for a wedding or debutante party, or renovating a home, car, or boat – Bryan did it all.

As time passed and he was physically limited, Bryan traded his love for boats for a motorized bike with a tall orange flag and a top speed of 32mph.  He cherished life and the joy of each day. Bryan did not know a stranger and was a master of conversation.  The brightness of his “star” touched the lives of many.  He will be greatly missed.

Burial will be at 10:00 am Saturday, August 10th at Evergreen Cemetery in the Graves Family section, next to his mother. A Memorial service will follow at 11:00 am in St John’s Cathedral’s Cummings Chapel.


  • John Ragsdale Posted July 31, 2019 8:20 am

    Beautifully written tribute to Rag. We will miss him.

  • Trey Gregory Posted August 6, 2019 8:04 pm

    Bryan Graves was a treasure to the all the residents of Ortega. His kindness and decency should be a goal to which we all strive. He could “cut the fool” with you at the drop of a hat but always offer you honest and reliable advice. Though he spoke of no children he was like a grandfather to my youngest (He was a quite the sprinter for a man in his 70s and a master shoe hider.). He will always be an admired and respected as a member of our family.

  • Sheila Gregory Engel Posted August 7, 2019 11:35 am

    Bryan Graves was one of the most gentle, funny, honest, and best natured men I have ever known. I count myself lucky to have met him when I moved into the Tender Trap. When we worked together on projects like the carport or kitchen, he always had patience teaching me how to do a good job. He fit in with all my friends, even though we were 40 years younger. Whenever I had the annual Christmas party, Bryan was always in attendance. I’ll never forget the love and kindness that he showed not just me, but all of my family and friends. You shaped a part of me and I Will Always Love You, Bryan Graves!

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