Grace Purcell, 104, of Longview passed away Sept. 30, 2023.
Born in Wessington, S.D., during the previous pandemic, Grace proved to be strong and resilient throughout her life. Raised in rural South Dakota, Grace attended Dakota Wesleyan University and became a teacher in a two-room schoolhouse in the Black Hills region. During her summer break, she met the love of her life, Richard (Dick) Purcell while he was doing a pharmacy internship in her hometown. They married in March of 1942.
After World War II they relocated to Washington, eventually moving to Longview in 1950. They both worked at Gunderson Rexall, which then became Purcell Rexall. After her husband’s death in 1970, Grace sold the store but continued working, first there, then at St. John’s Hospital as a pharmacy technician for many years. After her “retirement” she volunteered with the St. John Auxiliary managing the hospital gift shop. She worked there well into her 80’s.
Along with raising her six children and working full time, Grace was very active in community groups-she sang in and directed the choir at St. Rose Catholic Church for years, she sang in, and directed, the local Sweet Adelines group, she was a member of the St. Mary’s Circle at St. Rose. Grace was an avid gardener her entire life, and she never found a hobby or a craft she wasn’t interested in learning. Through the Lower Columbia College International program for several years, she hosted students from Japan and Taiwan as they studied. They became honorary grandchildren.
She was predeceased by her husband, Richard; a daughter, Susan Grayum; and a son, Patrick.
She is survived by six children, Michael, Peggy (Larry) Malone, Richard (Paula), Carolyn (Alfie) Treleven, Michael Grayum and Kathleen Williams. Grandma Grace has been much loved by her 16 grandchildren, 23 great-grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews. Through them her legacy of love, perseverance and service will live on.
A funeral mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Friday, Oct. 13, 2023 at St. Rose Catholic Church. She will be laid to rest next to Richard at Longview Memorial Park. Final arrangements have been entrusted to Steele Chapel.
To honor her love of gardening, in lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Lower Columbia School Gardens or a local charity of your choice.