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VANESSA GRAHAM was born on September 3, 1953, to the late Julia Mae (Nee Smith) and Brady Graham, Jr., in Baltimore, Maryland. She transitioned from this life to eternal life with The Father on Friday October 13, 2023, at 3:56am.
Vanessa was the second oldest of eleven children, seven girls and four boys. She graduated from Northwestern High School in 19714. Then earned her Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from the University of Baltimore in 1989. It was rare, during that time for a black woman to hold a degree and work in the field of Computer Science. It was challenging at times; but as always, she persevered. She was pleased that she was there at the genesis of the computer revolution, watching it evolve and constantly upgrading her skills.
While pursuing her degree and raising her daughter, Vanessa worked as a substitute teacher, a resource librarian, worked for social security, the post office, and in the computer labs at the University of Baltimore.
After graduating, she worked for the Baltimore Gas and Electric Company as a Computer Programmer, working at its Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant. From BGE she went to work for the University of Baltimore as an IT Support Specialist. She was capable, forthright and ever helpful to the least competent all the way to the most competent. No question was too simple not to treat seriously. No question too hard that she wouldn't sleuth out an answer. She was steady, reliable, the sort of soul you could always depend on. (James Qualls, Supervisor, University of Baltimore). This was Vanessa's work ethic no matter the job or position. From the University of Baltimore. she worked at Coppin State University as a Network Administrator. Then Harford County Board of Elections as an Election IT Specialist. This was her last stop in a remarkable and storied career that spanned decades. Finally, after fifty years in the workforce Vanessa retired in May of 2021.
Vanessa received her Christian education at Israel Baptist Church under the leadership of Edmond Meade and was baptized by Reverend Meade as a young girl. She sang on the Angelic Chorale Choir, served on the usher board, attended Sunday School and Vacation Bible School faithfully. Because of her confidence, poise and commanding presence, even as a young child; she was often called upon to recite poems.
Vanessa was family oriented "La Familia". Her love for her family had no limitations. She raised her niece Lakesha after the death of her brother Bruce. She always had time for family. Often helping Aunt Esther with her sermons. She embraced her "daughter girl" encouraging her and supporting her on her journey. Her door was open to all her nieces and nephews. Telling the older ones what they needed to hear; not what they wanted to hear. Having toys and crafts at the ready for the little ones and young ones when they would come to visit. She had high standards and expected each of them to meet and exceed those standards. "her Babies". Her Hunka Hunka Burning Love". Her Baby Boy". Her Princesses". "Her Schmoo". Her Glamour Girls". "Her Einsteins".
She had a fierce love for each of her siblings. But the bonds she shared with her sisters are what carried her through this life. She shared her hopes and dreams with Julia and saw them come to fruition. Lynette, her Young and the Restless buddy and the one she could count on in a pinch. Rachelle was her road dog, and they raised their children together. Rhonda, the one to be counted on for a word of encouragement reminding her to "trust and believe". And Angela, forever her baby sister, always ready to lend a helping hand (even if by proxy, Big Nate).
Vanessa was a charming extravert, who could strike up a conversation with anyone. She valued education and encouraged everyone to be a lifelong learner. She was honest and you never had to wonder how she felt about you. Vanessa loved to craft, Jewelry making and crocheting being among her favorites. She loved her glamour (Mary Kay especially). And there was always a package from HSN,QVC or Amazon waiting for her to open. She was an avid reader who could speak intelligently on any subject. She has been described as a "walking encyclopedia" rarely missing a Jeopardy answer. And loved her Sci-fi, especially Star Wars and Star Trek. Vanessa was a nerd and proud of it. "And You Know"
Vanessa is preceded in death by her parents, Julia and Brady Graham Jr., her sister Esther Juanita Graham, her brothers Bruce and Bryant Graham and a son Michael Mecheho.
She leaves to cherish her memory: one daughter, Desiree L. Graham, a foster daughter, Lakesha M. Graham, five sisters, Julia M. Benefield, Rachelle Graham, Lynette Reed, Rhonda P. Graham and Angela D. Graham, two brothers, Brady Graham, III and Duane A. Graham, two godchildren, Darrin R. Graham and Jermaine R. Holley, twenty-nine beloved nieces and nephews, treasured great nieces and nephews, precious great-great nieces and nephews and cherished cousins too numerous to name. And a host of friends, notably Christine Martin, Alfreda Hannah and Kory Barnett who she'd gotten close with in her declining years.
In the end Vanessa faced death the same way she faced life with courage, bravery and fortitude.