Graber Olive House matriarch
Mary E. “Betty” Graber, a native of San Dimas and longtime resident of Ontario, died peacefully on Saturday, September 13, 2014 with her son Clifford by her side. She had just celebrated her 98th birthday on September 4.
Betty grew up among the orange groves of San Dimas, graduated with the class of 1934 from Bonita High School and married her sweetheart, Robert “Bob” D. Graber, in 1936. They lived in Ontario, where they raised their two children, Clifford and Carolyn.
Alongside Bob, who in 1962 became the sole proprietor of the Graber Olive House, Betty dedicated herself to Ontario’s oldest business. It is now under the management of her son, Clifford Graber II. She established a charming gift shop, took a special interest in the shipping aspect of the company and made a point of connecting with customers.
“We’ve been in business here so long, a lot of these people have become old friends. That’s a good feeling,” she said in a 1980 San Bernardino Sun article. “It makes all our work seem worthwhile.”
She echoed that sentiment in a 2002 edition of La Verne Magazine.
“We’re very complimented that people drive out of their way to come out here and see us,” she said. “We really appreciate our customers; in fact, we tell them they sort of own the place.”
Mrs. Graber also made sure that employees felt at home.
“The world lost an amazing woman! I’ll miss hearing the words, ‘How are you doing, dear?’ the most,” Terre Audibert, a seasonal employee at the Graber Olive House, posted in an online tribute.
A philanthropist at heart, Mrs. Graber believed in doing one’s best and always looked for the finest in each individual. She belonged to many local clubs and organizations including Executive Women International, Shakespeare Club, Soroptimist Club, Jamboleers, Chaffey Community Art Association, Republican Women and the San Antonio Hospital Foundation.
Among her many personal interests, Betty developed a love of the arts at an early age and became a patron of the arts, supporting local artists and hosting many art shows over the years.
As members of the Balboa Yacht Club, she and Bob enjoyed power-boating and sailing, both locally and in the San Juan Islands in Washington where they spent their summers. Cliff recalls his mom’s attempt once to cook pancakes as the boat was rocking back and forth. The kids renamed them “pan-wads,” which is what the grandchildren still often affectionately refer to them as.
Grandson Robert McBride recalls one particular fishing trip. Mrs. Graber hooked something and reeled it in to discover she had caught a copper tea kettle covered in barnacles. It was agreed that only Grandma Betty, with her keen eye for artistic things, could catch such a treasure.
In recent years, Betty and Bob moved to the Mt. San Antonio Gardens retirement community in Claremont.
Her legacy to her children and many grandchildren was that one should not just do their best but be understanding of others and help them to become their very best as well. One must take the time to do everything right
Betty was preceded in death by her husband of 71 years, Bob Graber. She is survived by her son Cliff (Maura) and daughter Carolyn; by eight grandchildren, Bill, Robert, Catherine (John), Peggy (Ron), Clifford (Katie), Crystal, Kat (Manny) and Robert; by 19 great-grandchildren and by two great great-grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to The Braille Institute or to The Homeship Fund, Mt. San Antonio Gardens, 900 E. Harrison, Pomona, CA 91767, or to the charity of your choice.