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Linda J. Faulkner Graven

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RALEIGH, N.C. — March 14, 1949–June 29, 2017.

Well s**t, Frank! In typical Linda fashion, she left us with instructions on how she wanted her obituary: it is not to be boring and needs to be “more her.” As she herself would say, “Seriously?!” She was an incredible woman with a one-of-a-kind personality, so these instructions, while clear, are far from easy to carry out. But we will give it our best shot. Linda was a woman with remarkable energy and was astonishingly effective at getting things done, no matter how tall the task.

She was born to Helen and Frank Faulkner in Burbank, California ,and lived her life in California, Montana and finally North Carolina, close to family. 

Linda had a 21-year career at Lockheed Missiles and Space Company, where she worked hard, survived the testosterone and ended up as the first female to hold the position of administrative manager of the Space Systems Division. After retiring in 1995, she re-channeled her energy into charity work. From midnight pizza deliveries to the Relay for Life night shift to raising $25,000 at the Treasure Fest Garage Sale, she approached everything she did with vigor and a strong vision of how things should be done. Her signature style was best described as “a good-natured ribbing” that at some point in all our lives gave us pause, and a good laugh! For those who knew her best, the commentary was never short of entertaining. 

Linda has five great-grandsons and one great-granddaughter whom she was delighted to introduce to ice cream sundaes … late in the evenings … on school nights. Gleefully embracing her prerogative to indulge them, she would get them hyped up on sugar, then cheerfully turn them loose on their parents for the ride home. She let her six grandsons and one granddaughter watch the blue scene in Top Gun when they were kids, baked them countless batches of cookies, and took them on trips to Las Vegas to show the boys all the “boob statues.” She showed them how to sing along with Garth Brooks concerts as loudly as possible on the deck of their lake house in Montana, introduced them all to Donny and Marie Osmond, literally, and set the lone granddaughter up on a date with a dashing young doctor. She also gave some pretty great birthday and Christmas gifts — “none of that nickel crap,” as she would say.

Whether it was planning scavenger hunts in Mexico or hosting Sunday dinner, her two sons and their wives will look back fondly on her aggressive-passive-aggressive way of executing an event. She was the first to admit that she definitely liked things to be her way, but luckily her way was always impeccably organized and lots of fun, usually with a few surprises thrown in along the way. Though Linda came into their lives when they were adults, she was never an outsider. She adopted everyone seemingly overnight and immediately began gifting Donny and Marie paraphernalia. Her brother and sister will not forget that Linda relished her role as the baby of the family and was always quick to point out, often and in no uncertain terms, that she was the favorite child. 

Linda was an adventurer in more ways than one, and counted herself lucky to have found a true partner in her husband Richard M. Graven (Dickie). Together they went on safari, explored the Outback and went on exotic cruises. They climbed fences to get into hot tubs and shared countless exciting stories, but they enjoyed quieter moments together as well — going to the movies, visiting at the hospital and spoiling their two cats in the comfort of their own living room. Knowing Linda, she would want Dickie to continue living life to the fullest and seeking out life’s adventures. Though it goes without saying that he will be hard pressed to find anyone equal to the task, those aforementioned grandchildren — having learned enough from Linda’s unfailing spirit — just might be able to try. She had two children, Craig and Jennifer, from an earlier marriage who went before her. Though that was long ago, her love for them never faded. 

So there it is. We all know Linda was very quick to shed a tear over moments less impactful than this, so shed a tear now if you will. But before that tear dries, grab a drink, make a toast and remember how lucky you were to have her in your life. Since we know Linda wouldn’t like this to go on too long, we’ll wrap it up and just leave you with some pointers that we picked up from her along the way: Live life with compassion and humor, and for Pete’s sake drive a fast car. Buy the shoes and drink the wine (or Grey Goose). And in the words of an Apache blessing Dickie read at their anniversary one year: “May beauty surround you … in the journey ahead and through all the years. May happiness be your companion and your days … be good and long upon the earth.” 

P.S. If you were paying attention like you were supposed to, you know that Linda was involved in a number of charities, so in lieu of flowers, please donate to: For Linda to Cheerful Heart, PO Box 688 Polson, MT 59860 or to the American Cancer Society at 8300 Health Park #10, Raleigh, NC 27615.

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