Checking out

Former hotel maid is moving on after 50 years in Craig

Doris Graham got married last October.

She's having a new house built in a new city and is raising a 15-year-old.

She also just retired from a job she held for 18 years at the Craig Holiday Inn, but this 68-year-old won't let her age slow her down.

As she looked around her home on one of her last days in Craig, the gentle lady reminisced about hard times in her life.

But she won't end a memory without a positive thought and giggles like a teenager when she talks about her future.

"I'm happy to be able to go on with my life," Graham said. "To have the opportunity to -- and also to have good health and be able to enjoy it."

On Wednesday, her coworkers and friends gave her a surprise lunch to honor her 18 years of service at the Holiday Inn in Craig.

She blushed and wiped away tears as they bestowed her with an engraved clock, cards and flowers.

The general manager, Mike Durner, organized the surprise going away party, and presented her with the clock.

"She was never afraid to lend the extra force, the helping hand when it was needed," he said.

The worst part of her 18 years there, Graham said, was having to say goodbye.

Graham came to Craig in 1954 with her first husband, where they raised three daughters and a son. One of her daughters still lives in Craig, and the others live in California and Wyoming.

She started at the Holiday Inn as a night maid after she lost the Wardrobe laundry mat she owned with her first husband.

She explained that they choose to remodel and expand during a boom with high interest rates, and once the boom ended they just couldn't keep it.

"When I was out looking for work I guess I had in the back of my mind that I would like to have a job that maybe I could work the next twenty years and retire from, but I didn't really expect to find one in Craig," she said.

Within five years Graham had worked her way up to executive housemaid, where she was responsible for ordering linens and supplies, hiring, and the general cleanliness of all the rooms and common areas of the hotel.

In 1991, her son was killed in a drowning accident, and the next years were a time of much loss for her.

Her first husband passed away four years later, and her mother passed away a year after that.

"I was at the Holiday at the time and they have been very good to me," Graham recalled.

"They've been behind me, and have seen me through some rough times."

She let out a small sigh when she thought about those years but quickly lifted her head and smiled and said, "Its OK. It all turned out OK."

And it has. Recently her life has been a joyful forward movement.

A year ago her 15-year-old granddaughter, one of her 11 grandchildren, moved in with her. It is a better situation for all, and she said she loves having the kids around.

She also raised one of her grandsons, so being a two-generation mom is nothing new for her.

"I think I was supposed to be a caretaker," she said laughing.

Eight months ago she was married to Jim Graham, a longtime friend of the family who knew Doris' first husband.

They are building a three-bedroom house in Fruita.

The construction hasn't started yet, but they sold their house in Craig in two days.

"We feel like it's meant to be," Doris Graham said. "It's time to go."

They will move in with their granddaughter by the end of summer, where she will start high school.

Graham said her granddaughter wasn't too pleased with moving again, but she said she will just have to make the best of it.

In the meantime, the newlyweds are taking a road trip to Michigan to visit Jim's son and grandchildren for a few weeks, and will also swing by Wyoming to see Dorris' daughter.

When she returns, the forecast calls for gardening, latch work embroidery and more travel.

"I'd like to go back to Hawaii," she said.

"The first time I went there I had never flown before, and my dad called and said 'If I got you a ticket, would you fly by yourself?' and I said, 'Yes!' He was very surprised I did, but I went and had a ball."

Graham is moving on with her life as if she is just getting started.

She said she will miss her friends in Craig, but seems fully content with retiring.

"It's pretty good to feel you enjoyed working," Graham said.

"And I really enjoyed it -- I loved it."

Colbert Levy can be reached at 824-7031.

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