In Memoriam: Remembering those we lost in 2017

Wednesday, January 3, 2018 0 Comments

As the Town of Miami Lakes ushered in a new year, residents reflected on the events that impacted their lives in 2017, and the great heroes who were lost as longtime Miami Lakes residents.

These military veterans, church founders, community and philanthropy leaders and longtime contractors certainly had an impact on the lives of residents, who will forever keep their memory alive.  

• Patricia “Pat” Culbertson Graham, the matriarch of the Graham family that developed Miami Lakes and widow of Willian A. Graham, passed away in her sleep.

She was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1924 to Roy and Cynthia Culbertson.

As a college student at the University of Minnesota, where she studied journalism, she met Bill Graham who was stationed there for training with the Army Air Corps.

An encounter at the Student Union changed her life forever, as they were soon married and moved to Miami. The couple lived in Coral Gables and Miami Springs before moving to Miami Lakes.

They had five children, Sandy Graham Younts, Bill E. Graham, Carol Graham  Wyllie, Cynthia Graham Gordon and Beth Graham Martinez.

A lover of education and culture, Patricia Graham held numerous community and philanthropic leadership roles in South Florida.

• Longtime public relations person as well as a historian and preservationist Penny Lambeth.

The Miami Lakes resident served as vice president of TREEmendous Miami, a volunteer group that helped plant thousands of trees throughout Miami-Dade County.

• Laurie Stamper Eliasson, 61, passed away in Maryland following a long battle with Corticobasal Degeneration.

She was part of the first graduating class at Hialeah Miami Lakes High in 1973, and earned her degree at Florida State University in 1977.

She retired from the Air Force as a Colonel after 30 years of military service.

• Longtime Miami Lakes resident Carolyn Furlong passed away at the age of 90. 

She ran her own insurance and benefits company for more than 60 years, and she blazed the trail for women who started their own businesses in a male dominated field.

• The Rev. A. Bertram Miller, founding minister of Miami Lakes Congregational Church, passed away at the age of 90 after he fell and injured his head while on his way to Vermont for the summer.

Miller followed in the footsteps of his father who was a Congregational minister.

Miller grew up in South Dakota, New Hampshire and Connecticut.

He fought in World War II as a member of the U.S. Navy V-12 program.

He graduated from Harvard in 1947 and Yale Divinity School in 1950.

• Longtime Miami Lakes resident Admiral Diego Hernandez, whose military career spanned from 1955 to 1993, died following complications from Parkinson’s disease. He was 83.

Hernandez served in a variety of assignments in Navy fighter squadrons, flying from aircraft carriers deployed around the world.

He flew two combat tours during the Vietnam War and was highly decorated for gallantry in action.

• Longtime Miami Lakes resident Dorothy Ball died due to Parkinson’s disease at the age of 81.

Ball dedicated her life to helping others, empowering women through her work with Zonta International as area director, by helping those less fortunate through  her United Protestant Appeal (as president) and recording audio books for the blind.

She also counseled girls at a Miami juvenile detention facility, mentored an immigrant woman to read and write English and taught Sunday school for 18 years at Sunrise Presbyterian Church.

• Donald B. Boyd, retired USCGR, passed away following a brief battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 66.

Boyd was a retired airfield operations supervisor with the Miami-Dade Aviation Department at Miami International Airport and retired USCG Reserve CW04 with four years active duty and 30 years reserve duty.

Boyd was an avid photographer and many of his aviation photos are well-known throughout the world.

• Longtime Miami Lakes resident William Noble passed away at the Bruce W. Carter VA Medical Center in Miami.

Noble was past president of the Hialeah/Miami Springs Rotary Club.

He attended Miami High, the University of Florida, and then joined the U.S. Navy during the Korean War.

After the war, he graduated from the University of Miami with honors, and he was a proud veteran and member of the American Legion.

Noble had a distinguished 35-year career with Miami-Dade County Public Schools and retired as principal of Hialeah Miami Lakes High School.

• Paul F. Chestnut Sr, passed away at the age of 83.

He was one of the longest serving electrical contractors in Miami Lakes.

His company was part of the original development of Miami Lakes performing electrical contracts on residential and commercial properties.

Chesnut was born in Nassau and came to the United States as a teenager and joined the U.S. Marine Corps.


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