Josephine F. “Dolly” (Zaverl) Grahek, 95, passed away while surrounded by family members on Wednesday, June 26, 2019, in Ely.
She was born September 27, 1923, in Ely, the daughter of Austrian immigrants John and Jozefa Zaverl.
Dolly grew up in Ely and was an honors graduate, in 1941, of Ely Memorial High School. Starting in high school and well into her 20s, Dolly worked as a bookkeeper at the original Zup’s Grocery Store.
After World War II, Dolly became engaged and later married Albert Grahek. Together, they raised three daughters and established a home on “top of the hill” on the 800 Block of East Conan Street in Ely.
Dolly’s love of family was unmatched, and she was especially known for her home-cooked meals including roasts, soups and stews, meatballs and gravy and pancakes, and the baking of legendary treats including walnut and apple potica and caramel rolls. For years, Dolly cooked for the staff members at her daughter and son-in-law’s business, Canadian Border Outfitters. Countless trips were made down the Fernberg, bringing that day’s dinner and treats to a hungry and thankful crew.
For many years, Albert operated a barber shop out of the basement and Dolly was his partner upstairs, scheduling customers, greeting them and even feeding a few, especially children who made their way back up the stairs. They usually left with baked treats, cookies or ice cream.
Dolly was also accomplished in handicraft, crocheting hundreds of afghans, blankets and doilies for her home, for family members and friends.
Dolly cooked and crocheted until the final months of her life, and continued to care for her family and friends, always looking out for others and living by the Golden Rule. Dolly had a generous and compassionate soul. One of her final wishes was to make sure her friends and the staff at Carefree Living were treated to a catered meal in her memory.
Dolly was preceded in death by her parents, husband Albert, infant daughter Lucille, son-in-law Gary Omerza, brothers Anton, John and Albin, infant sister Anne, nephew Gary and niece Teresa.
She is survived by her daughters, Jo Anne Coombe (Lon Popejoy) of Duluth, Judy Omerza of Scottsdale, Arizona, Chickie (Pat) Harristhal of Morristown, Arizona, grandchildren Tom (Hollee) Coombe, Chris Coombe, Eric (Charista) Harristhal and Jeremy (Cate) Harristhal, great-grandchildren Chase, Jacob, Robert, Bella, Cam, Catie, Macy, Scarlet, Harvey and Henry, and numerous nieces and nephews, great-nieces and nephews, and “adopted” son Bob Grivette, along with many other loved ones and friends.
Join us for Dolly’s funeral mass on Wednesday, August 7 at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in Ely. Visitation will begin at noon with Mass at 1 p.m. After Mass, from 2-4 p.m. we will gather for a celebration of our mom’s 95 1/2 years of life at The Grand Ely Lodge.
We look forward to seeing you and sharing our many stories! Friends, family, and those wanting a slice of fresh potica are invited to attend.
In lieu of flowers, please make your donation to The St. Louis County Historical Society. Arrangements by Kerntz Funeral Home.