Grace Elaine Harper was born January 18, 1948 in Port Arthur, Texas. She graduated from Kirbyville High School in 1966 and served her country in the U.S. Navy following graduation. She died November 4th, 2018 at her home in Centerville, Texas after battling multiple myeloma cancer.
Grace was preceded in death by her parents, James Ralph Harper, Sr. & Grace Gwendolyn (Montgomery) Harper; sister, Laura Elizabeth Harper; brother, James Ralph Harper, Jr. and grandparents, William Tolbert& Leila Mae (Shoemaker) Montgomery and Joe & Martha (Smith) Harper.
She is survived by daughters, Brandi Rene (Reed) Wiseman and husband, Dan of Midway and Grace Dale “Sissi” (Reed) McCurry and husband, Roane of Centerville and sister, Wynette (Harper) Sowell and husband, Paul of Jasper. Grace is also survived by grandchildren, Claire Wiseman, Harper Wiseman and Lornah Wiseman, all of Midway, Jay McCurry of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and Jacob McCurry of Centerville.
Grace retired as a postmaster from the Leona Post Office in Leona, Texas, but her real passion was raising and showing Australian Cattle Dogs and Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dogs. Gravan Kennels was the prefix Grace had raised the Australian Cattle Dog under since 1981. She received her first heeler, “Goblin,” in 1967. For years she had nothing but Heelers proving that once you have had a cattle dog, nothing else would do. She acquired an Australian Cattle Dog import named “Erostoga Jillaroo of Australia” in 1981. The name was eventually shortened to “Jill” by Grace and her daughters, Brandi and “Sissi.” As the dam of 22 titled get, Jill remains the breed’s mother of the most titled get. She was the foundation of a legacy that still continues today. Gravan Kennel produced over 80 AKC Champions, a B.O.B. World Show Winner, ACD Specialty Winner’s Dog, Winner’s Bitch, Stud Dog, Award of Merit placements and four times Westminster breed winners.
In the 1990’s, at about the same time that Grace’s daughters were graduating high school and moving on to college, she shifted her focus to Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dogs, a direct ancestor of the Australian Cattle Dog. She had extensively researched the breed and thought that she could better serve in the professional dog breeding world by taking on a breed that was in need of help. She soon met Tom McManus of Silver Park Stumpys in 2001 which started a partnership that has endured to the present day.
Grace had also worked as a freelance artist and illustrated books for well known and respected AKC Judge Pat Hastings, as well as, informative Australian Cattle Dog writings by Narelle Hammonds.
A celebration of Grace’s life was held 5 P.M., Saturday, November 10, 2018 at Walters Funeral Home in Centerville, Texas. A graveside service will take place at a later date in Hemphill, Texas.
Honorary Pallbearers: Grandsons and Granddaughters
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Madison County 4-H, 300 West School St., Madisonville, Texas 77864 or Centerville, Texas I.S.D. FFA, Attn: Dana Warren, 813 S. Commerce St., Centerville, Texas 75833.