Our dear mother and grandmother, Donna Elaine McKinney Graham, 76, of Belmont, NC, passed away Monday, November 13, 2023 after a painful battle with ALS. Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on May 26,1947, she was the daughter of Virginia and Swift McKinney and stepdaughter of George Schryver.
Because her stepfather was in the Air Force, Donna traveled the world at a young age and lived in several flung places including Morocco and the Philippines. In her teens, her family moved to Maryville, Tennessee where she and her siblings Diane and Billy were able to grow up with extended family.
Donna left Maryville after high school and went to live in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with her mother’s cousin. This was where she met Angus Edwards, who would later become her first husband and father of two of her three children – Rachel Edwards and Sean Edwards. Donna and Angus traveled all over the Caribbean as members of several sailboat crews, and finally ended up living in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
When Donna and Angus divorced, Donna stayed in Fort Lauderdale and raised her children there. She encouraged all of her kids to participate in sports and was a frequent visitor at their soccer / football / swimming events. She was also an active member of her local church during that time and a loving grandma to Mike Edwards, who was born in 1991. Mike remembers that he was able to convince his grandma to take him to 7-11 for Slurpees, even in the late evening. He says he also often went with her for walks around the neighborhood – she would walk their dog Joey, and he would ride his skateboard.
She was still living in Fort Lauderdale until 2017, which is when she moved with her daughter Rachel, her son-in-law Reggie Farrar and her grandson Blake Farrar to the Charlotte area.
Donna loved time at home with her family and she is remembered by Blake for her amazing banana bread and yummy chicken dinners. She was often seen around the neighborhood with the family dog Daisy, as she typically took a walk every day. She loved playing games with Blake and was also known to participate in Nerf Wars and squirt gun battles (Blake and Grandma take on the invading dog) on many occasions.
During her downtime, she would spend time reading, watching movies featuring her favorite actors – John Wayne and Sean Connery – and TV shows like MacGyver, Magnum PI, Matlock and Perry Mason. She often attended Blake’s soccer and basketball games, and sometimes also volunteered at his school for the book fair.
A devoted churchgoer, she was clearly loved by her friends from First Baptist of Belmont. The members of her church were an amazing support throughout her illness, visiting her regularly at home and then in the nursing home.
Donna is survived by her children Rachel Edwards, Sean Edwards and Sarah Graham, her grandsons Michael Edwards and Blake Farrar, her nieces Ariana Wood and Margaret Schryver and her nephew Billy Schryver, her first cousins Karen Kidd, Steve McCullough and Scott McCulllough and their families.
She is preceded in death by her mother Virginia Schryver, her sister Diane Wood and her brother Bill Schryver.
A memorial will be placed for her at Evergreen Cemetery in Belmont, NC. A memorial service will be held at First Baptist Church of Belmont. Date is still to be determined.