Former Gearhart Grocery owner and local volunteer Jill Graham has died.

Graham died Friday after surgery at Oregon Health and Science University unexpectedly took a turn for the worst.

Graham fell into a coma because of complications from surgery Tuesday. Friday, she was gone.

Now the community she gave so much of herself to is mourning the loss.

“She was just one of those people that everything she touched, she had a way of making it better,” said friend Betty Smith, who volunteered with Graham. “If you had her on your team as a volunteer, you had no worries.”

Most recently, Graham and Smith, the Liberty Theater Board president, co-chaired the Art ala cARTe event for the Liberty Theater.

“Volunteering for the Liberty was something Jill did that was her way of following in her father’s footsteps,” said Cindy Daley. “Her father died in an accident in 1968, but before he died, he was very active in the downtown and she felt that was her way of carrying on her family name.”

Graham grew up in Astoria, a fourth-generation Astoria family. Her father, Kenneth “Kike” Simonsen was the first president of the Bank of Astoria but died before he began his position in 1968. Daley was once married to Graham’s brother. After they divorced, Daley recalled, “Jill said I was no longer her sister-in-law. I was now her sister. And we felt like sisters. She was the aunt to my three girls and she was the best aunt my daughters could have ever possibly had.”

Graham met her husband Mike, originally of Seaside, while teaching in the Portland area. Once married, the couple moved to California before returning to the North Coast, a place they always called home.

They ran Gearhart Grocery for 13 years. The store changed hands in 2010.

“She hired young people at Gearhart Grocery and then mentored them through their education and into adulthood,” Daley said. “So she had long-lasting relationships with many children that became adults.”

Graham’s volunteer work included the Liberty Theater, for which she was a board member for four years, Columbia Memorial Hospital and the Assistance League, providing clothing for underprivileged children, for which she was a charter member. She started, organized and managed Operation School Bell and it is estimated she helped to clothe more than 2,000 children in Clatsop County.

She also co-founded and helped organize the River Club, a fundraising branch of the CMH Foundation.

“Jill had the biggest heart that anybody could ever have,” Daley recalled. “She gave more of herself to her community and touched so many lives and she did so with a smile on her face, never a complaint. She gave 100 percent of herself and her calendar was so full she had to keep multiple calendars just to keep track of all of her nonprofit events and the assistance she provided.”

Graham also raised funds for the Seaside Food Bank, as well as the food bank of Clatsop County.

In her spare time, she catered weddings, family reunions and special events. She provided her services to nonprofit organization events, as well.

Food was her gift, Smith said.

“The presentation was always special. Nothing came from Jill that wasn’t beautiful. She was our own little Martha Stewart,” she said.

Graham also enjoyed clamming, gardening and helping people in need.

Smith said she made everybody feel like they were the most special person in the world.

A celebration of life will be held at the Astoria Golf and County Club Saturday. Details will be announced.

“The County Club is also a tradition of her father,” Daley said. “Jill grew up in the junior program. Her father taught her how to golf, so she was a fabulous golfer. She learned very young.”

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