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gv"onse suffme eefraf ff
dif5 27, 1940 Jnar-y 22, 1995
nay, fanumy 30, 1995
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Yvonne was born to Constancia DeGraff and the late Pershing DeGraff
on May 27,1940 on St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. She was the second
child born of tis union. She received her early education within the
Virgin Islands public school system, which included her elementary,
intermediate and secondary levels ofeducation. She was a member of the
Charlotte Amalie High School graduating class of 1956, following which
she attended the Bronx Community College in New York City. In her
early youth, Yvonne demonstrated that she possessed an inner strength,
coupled with a keen sense of responsibility, a capacity for loving and
caring for her loved ones, and a drive to continuously strengthen and
develop these fine characteristic qualities by now we had come to realize
that she possessed. Throughout their lifetime, she portrayed the personi-
fication of all of these fine quality traits with the addition of an ongoing
sense of humor which she utilized as one would use a trade mark.
~~D C- IC-2
With the help of the overpowering grace of God, and a closely knit
supporting family, Yvonne almost single-handedly nurtured and raised
her first two offspring during their infancy and early childhood. Derrick
and Darren were her little charges with whom she grew up, first in New
York and then right here at home in St. Thomas.
It was following her return home from New York that Yvonne encoun-
tered the young man with whom she became enamored, and to whom
she vowed her undying love. With her John, they mutually pledged their
betrothal one to another.
John Milton Gifft and Yvonne Louise DeGraff exchanged their marital
vows on Saturday, December 23, 1972. Theirs was a union filled with
many blessings, more joys than reasons for sadness, including a happy
bundle of joy in the person of their very own Kimberly with whom
Yvonne established a solid silent partnership, similar to the one she had
continuously maintained with both Derrick and Darren. All three chil-
dren will be able to realize an inner peace, soothing comfort and a source
of strength well into the distance future, by their reminiscences of their
life experiences with their dear mother Yvonne, during her lifetime with
Yvonne attended church regularly and she dearly believed in God.
Until her retirement recently, she was employed in the office of the
Untied States Attorney as a member of their clerical staff, and as a parale-
Late last year, Yvonne became ill, her condition worsened, resulting in
her demise on Sunday, January 22,1995.
"Out of the sadness of losing a loved one, we can find a profound
sense of joy of life. Firstly, let us accept the truth that life itself is eternal;
and though death is inevitable, it makes sense for us to view death
positively as the point of departure for a new life."
This closing thought is taken from an article entitle "Death: One Facet
of Eternal Life," published on page 6 in the March 16,1992 edition of the
"World Tribune," a weekly publication by "World Tribune Press," Santa
Yvonne will be dearly missed by all whose lives she has touched. May
she find eternal peace and everlasting rest within the arms of our Dear
Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. She will be remembered most fondly.
HUSBAND... John Milton Gifft
MOTHER... Constancia DeGraff
STEPMOTHER... Maria DeGraff
CHILDREN ... Darren Prince, Derrick Ottley, Kimberly Gifft
STEPCHILDREN... John Gifft, Corey Gifft
FATHER-IN-LAW,.. James Gifft, Sr.
BROTHERS... Pershing, John, Dean, Dwayne,
Darlyl and Donald DeGraff
SISTERS... Madeline, Marcia and
Janice DeGraff, June Phillips
GREAT AUNT... Louisa Pemberton
AUNTS... Emeralda and Lucille DeGraff, Leona Thomas
NEPHEWS... Keith and Kerin Ferrell, William Phillips, Jr.
NIECES... Brittany, Shantel and Sheryl DeGraff,
Joyce Eugiene, Melonie Hall, Sharon Parker,
Rashida Hodge, Christine and Natasha DeGraff
BROTHERS-IN-LAW... James Gifft, Jr.,
Clement Gifft, Robert Phillips, Joel Gifft, William Phillips
SISTERS-IN-LAW... Eloise DeGraff,
June Gloria Gifft, Lorraine Gifft, Karen Hodge,
Lorraine Vialet, Veronica and Vanessa DeGraff
SPECIAL COUSINS ... Eileen Schneider,
Ina Williams, Asta Schneider, Doris Wenner
SPECIAL FRIEND... Elaine Francis
John DeGraff, Pershing DeGraff,
Dwayne DeGraff, Dean DeGraff,
Derrick Ottley, Daren Prince
(:Mcnoray r aaffearers
Earle Benjamin, Roy Daniel,
Janice DeGraff, Marica DeGraff,
Vincent M. "Beef" Clindinen, James Gifft, Sr.,
James Gifft, Jr., Orville James
Knights of Columbus
Casket with Pallbearers
Omega Psi Fraternity
C.A.H.S. Class of '56
C.A.H.S. Class of "66
A&;e ofj (ervwe
BLESSING OF THE BODY AT THE DOOR OF THE CHURCH
ENTRANCE HYMN ................ What a Friend We Have In Jesus
GREETING AND OPENING PRAYER .................... Celebrant
FIRST READING: Ecclesiastes 3:1-13 ............. Ms. Marcia DeGraff
RESPONSORIAL PSALM 121:1-2,3-4,5-6,7-8 ....... Mr. Derrick Ottley
Response: Our help is in the Lord who made heaven and earth.
SECOND READING: Romans 8:28-39 .......... Mr. Dwayne DeGraff
GOSPEL .............................. Deacon Leonard Monsanto
HOMILY ........................................ Celebrant
PRAYERS OF INTERCESSION
OFFERTORY HYMN .................. Just A Closer Walk With Thee
SIGN OF PEACE ..................... Let There Be Peace On Earth
MEDITATION HYMN ...................... Schubert's "Ave Maria"
Sung by Ms. Faye Moon and Ms. Gweneth Moolenaar
COMMUNION HYMN .................... I Am the Bread of Life
POST COMMUNION PRAYER ........................ Celebrant
MUSICAL RENDITION ............... Open the Gates of the Temple
The Bel-Aire "A Capella" Choir, Edwardo Hill, Conductor
EULOGY ................................... Pershing DeGraff, Jr.
FINAL COMMENDATION ............................. Celebrant
RECESSIONAL HYMN .......................... For All the Saints
Celebrant... Most Reverend Elliot G. Thomas, Bishop
Deacon... Leonard Monsanto
Organist... Faye Moon
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Dearest Yvonne... Your sense of compassion, your charitable ways
your love, the joys we shared, your God-given acumen as a peace make
your kind and honest approach frequently applied in resolving prob
lems, your steadfast faithfulness, your warm companionship and you
consistent devotion as a mother to all of our children, are but a mere fev
of the many wonderful attributes which you so warmly personified aj
my dear wife and constant life-mate.
On our wedding day, when asked, what is the one wish that yoi
would like to have in this marriage, you replied, "that we will never go tc
bed mad at each other." The ongoing resolutions of so many variec
problems that were encountered along the way, were as a direct result oj
our mutual adherence to the fulfillment of the terms of this one wedding
day wish, which resulted in many, many wonderful days, months and
years of happiness, sparked also by your keen sense of humor. Your well
timed periodic query, "who died and left you Boss?" or "These people
big-up mehson!" Funny! Funny!
Thank you so much for a wonderful life together. We are going to miss
you terribly. Our prayers have been constant throughout your illness.
Even now we continue to pray that the Lord will take you into His arms
and bless you and give you peace everlasting.
Your husband Milt
My Dearest Yvonne... I will no longer hear you say Mrs. DeGraff, as
you jokingly called me at times. I now know that your pains are over and
that you are resting safely in our Savior's arms. And if our fellowship
below in Jesus, be so sweet, what heights of rapture shall we know when
round His throne we meet. Rest in peace,
Love your mother Ansy
My Dearest, Dearest Mom ... Lord knowasL willmiss you. I will miss
our shopping exercising, and'going to church together. Yvonne, what a
great loss this wiltlbe for me, but our God lknowbes~.. May you rest in
Love always, Kimzick, as you affectionately called me
Dear "My Yvonne," as I called you, you will be sorely missed by me.
Your pain and suffering are finally over. May God gently hold you in his
arms and may you rest in peace. Ma, you were like my sister, best friend,
counselor and most of all, a great mother.
Love, Brother "D" son Derrick
Dear Moms ... Your passing was a great shock to me, and I am going
to miss you deeply. So sorry I couldn't be there with you, but I will miss
you. With all my love...
Brother "D" son Darren
Eves ... we always discussed many, many things. The last issue was
"Invictus." I said it was rooted in the furrows of prideful minds and
should not be practiced because it speaks of self sufficiency. We found
our "New Invictus." The Old:
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul!
We are not invincible captains of our souls as William Henley says.
We cannot strut through the stanzas of "Invictus" with our heads held
high. Our salvation is a gift of God, not of works, and we have no room
to boast. Instead we should bow our heads in homage to the One who is
the true captain of our souls Jesus Christ.
Out of the light that dazzles me,
Bright as the sun from pole to pole,
I thank the God I know to be
For Christ is the conqueror of my soul.
Since His the sway of circumstance,
I would not wince nor cry aloud.
Under that rule which men call chance
My head with joy is humbly bowed.
Beyond this place of sin and tears
That life with Him! And His the aid,
Despite the menace of the years,
Keeps, and shall keep me, unafraid.
I have no fear, though strait the gate,
He cleared from punishment the scroll.
Christ is the Master of my fate,
Christ is the Captain of my soul.
She used to say, "Mars, somebody called me Marcy today... again,"
smile. Eves, I had hoped that you'd pull through. I had hoped beyond
my comprehension, but our God has ceased your suffering and He loves
"Marsquanch," as your called me, Marcy
Dear Yvonne ... When I visited you at the end of last year, I did not
know that would be the last time I'd see you. I'll miss your laughter and
Love always, Sis Madeline
Dear Yvonne... I am still shocked at your passing. I didn't know that
I'd never talk to you ever again. I'll miss you so much.
Love Sis June
My dearly beloved Evonnie ... as I affectionately called you, I will
miss our nightly jokes and long conversations. May your soul rest in
Love, "Big J," Sis Janice
"Life is short for a precious few, but impacts more so with the passing
of someone you knew." You have gone from our lives in the physical
sense but will live on in our memory forever. We can never forget your
loving smile, your thoughtfulness or your great personality. You were a
mother to some, a friend to others, a wife, an aunt to my kids and a sister
to me. In words so wonderfully expressed, "You did it your way."
Good-bye, farewell, rest in the arms of God. We love you.
Your Brother Dwayne DeGraff and family
Dear Yvonne ... you were the greatest stepdaughter one could have
had, always there for me.
Love always, Maria DeGraff
Yvonne .. The Almighty has enabled us to have enjoyed a brief
sojourn together for a while, but ours is but a temporary status here on
this earth. Your time with us has been shortened, and we grieve today
over the loss of your presence. However; deep within our souls, we
know that your space has been lain and you are in a comfort zone. We
share much elation for having had an opportunity to have shared life
with you. Dear cousin, rest in peace until that sweet hour when we will
meet again. As we bid farewell, know that our hearts are heavily laden
with grief. Rest in eternal peace.
Your loving cousins, Astrid, Yvonne, Eva and Evis
Yvonne, Yvonne, what a shock it was for me. You were like my true
twin. We were very dose. We thought alike. We laughed a lot and
discussed so many things. I will miss you greatly.
Love always, your dear Junie Pershing
We, the members of the Class of 1956, extend sincere condolences to
the husband, children and family in the passing of our beloved classmate,
Yvonne DeGraff Gifft. Yvonne's passing has left a void in allof our lives
Everyone who knows her would attest that she was a friendly and admi
rable person. In today's world of family and social crisis, Yvonne wai
able to perform all of her duties as a wife, mother and friend in the wa)
that we all would remember her most We will miss her dearly, but we
know that she is resting in the arms of our Lord. Sleep on, dear classmate
until we all meet again.
The Members of the C.A.H.S. Class of 1951
To a Good Friend... My friendship with Yvonne dates back almost 4C
years. We lost contact when I returned to St. Thomas to live. She did
likewise, unknown to me. Lo and behold one Jouvert morning we
spotted each other, and yes, our friendship was renewed. We rarely saw
each other more than twice a year. When we did it was as though we had
never lost contact. I looked forward to our annual reunion on Jouvert
morning on the waterfront. Our annual reunion has now come to a
sudden halt. I will miss the expressions which she had that kept me in
stitches. She had a way of adding a sense of humor to the most serious
matter. She was my good friend. Until we are reunited with Christ, rest
in God's hands.
A friend of old, Elaine C. Francis
Dear Mrs. Gifft... I had hoped to know you even better, but only God
knows our future. You will be truly missed by everyone.
Love, Rashida George
Dear Family Members... I extend my sincere condolences on the loss
of your beloved Yvonne. Through the blessings of our precious Lord,
you were able to share beautiful moments together on this earth. On this
sad occasion, keep dear to your hearts the love you shared. Cherish the
precious memories, for they will be a part of your lives forever. Take
refuge in the fact that Yvonne has been embraced by our Lord and Savior,
Jesus Christ, and taken to the land where there is no more suffering, but
there is bliss beyond our earthly comprehension. May the peace and
blessings of our Lord descent upon you and grant you the comfort you
need in this time of sorrow. With you in my prayers ...
Judy M. Goma, Senator
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