Welcome to WeeklyWilson.com, where author/film critic Connie (Corcoran) Wilson avoids totally losing her marbles in semi-retirement by writing about film (see the Chicago Film Festival reviews and SXSW), politics and books----her own books and those of other people. You'll also find her diverging frequently to share humorous (or not-so-humorous) anecdotes and concerns. Try it! You'll like it!

Home » Health/Medicine » Aunt Neva Corcoran (Graves): How Did She Die?

Aunt Neva Corcoran (Graves): How Did She Die?

The photo of the sunset was taken the day after Thanksgiving from the deck outside my home in East Moline (IL).


I always knew that my father, John Corcoran, Jr., had 3 brothers (Harold, Edgar and Ervin) and 4 sisters: Neva, Nora, Mabel and Dora.

I actually met all of his brothers, but only 2 of his sisters and only once, in my life, did I meet my paternal grandmother (the only one of my grandparents still alive when I was born). I was told that Nora and Neva “died young,” but I never knew HOW young or when or how or why.

I was looking through an old trunk of my mother’s, looking for Christmas sweaters, actually. This was just before Thanksgiving. I found this clipping in a very old, yellowed envelope, with a mailing date of Sept. 12, 1931. The return address was L.G. Meyer, County Superintendent, West Union, Iowa, and it bore my mother’s name (Sadie A. Monson), with an address of 202 2nd Street S.E. Oelwein, Iowa.

Inside was a VERY young picture of my father (looking very thin) and this obituary:

Mrs. Walter Graves, 29, 935 Third Street West, died at 6 p.m. Wednesday in a local hospital of complications following an operation for appendicitis, Monday.  She had been a resident here for approximately two years.

Neva M. Corcoran, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Corcoran, was born in Fairbank, IA, Jan. 27, 1902.  She was graduated from Immaculate Conception School at Fairbank and Gates Business College, Waterloo. On Nov. 4, 1930, she was married to Walter Graves at Fairbank, after which they made Waterloo their home.

Mrs. Graves (my deceased Aunt Neva Corcoran) is survived by her husband, parents, four brothers (Edgar, John, Irvin and Harold Corcoran, Fairbank and two sisters, Mrs. F. P. Schuck, West Point, Iowa (Mabel), and Mrs. Charles L. Duffy (Dora), 2027 Third Street West, Waterloo.

Funeral services will be held at the home of her parents at Fairbank on Saturday at 9:30 a.m.  Burial will be in Fairbank.

End of Obituary, with no actual date on the tiny slip of paper, but, given the statement of her age as 29 and her birth year as 1902, I’m guessing that the year was, indeed, 1931 (although the envelope seemed to have no bearing on the sad news of the clipping inside).  My father, John’s birthday, was October 28, 1902, which means he was born nearly 9 months, to the day, after this older sister—if I am correct. He would have been nearly the same age as Neva, much as my daughter, Stacey,  (born 07/09/87) is about the same age as her cousin, Matt Wilson, who was born in June of 1987.

I find this stuff fascinating, not because it is interesting to anyone else, but because there was so little ever told me about anyone on the Corcoran side of my family, and I also know very little about the Dutch/Norwegian side of my family (the Monsons).

Many people write entire memoirs about their families of origin. I doubt that this will ever occur with me, the writer, because I always feel that (a) my life is not that interesting to anyone else and (b) I barely know any of the facts or details of these phantom figures who peopled my parents’ lives, so it would be difficult for anyone else to re-construct my Irish or Norwegian/Dutch ancestors.

It is awful to think of an adult  nearly 30 years of age dying of appendicitis, but it sounds like that is what happened. What a way to go!
RIP, Aunt Neva.


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  1. Ervin Corcoran, Jr

    I can tell you more about the family history and Aunt Neva’s death. Neva’s obituary states that she died after surgery for appendicitis. My father (Neva’s brother) always said she died from a blood clot following surgery that would help her have children. She couldn’t have children and was hoping the surgery would help. Why the difference in the obituary we can only surmise. She was 30 when she died from what he said.
    Your father’s mother was Nora Leehey Corcoran. The younger sister who died was Alice, who was 1 when she died.
    If you have more questions about the Corcoran family history feel free to contact me.
    Ervin Corcoran, Jr.

  2. Tin Corcoran

    My dad was Elmer Corcoran, and we lived about a mile from Harold’s farm outside of Fairbank.
    Have you received information on the Corcoran family?

    • Dear Tin (Tim?):
      I have not received much information about the Corcoran family. In the Christmas card from my first cousin Irvin, Jr., he made mention of a “family reunion” that took place somewhere near Des Moines. He and his wife had attended. Not only did I not attend, I never knew they were having a family reunion to attend. For whatever reasons, my mother and father did not trot off to any reunions that I am aware of during my growing-up years, and, since then, I’ve been living in Illinois. Still, I’ve lived at the same address in East Moline, just across the bridge from Davenport, Iowa, since 1970, so I’m not difficult to find. We even have a land line, like “the old days.” I did do an Ancestry.com thing and received an e-mail from Mabel’s granddaughter and, recently, something came in from a person wanting to track their Leehey relatives. (my dad was, somehow, related to Doc Leehey of Independence, as I think his mother was Catherine Leehey, originally). This individual lives in DeKalb, but I know so little about the Corcorans (let alone the further-removed Leeheys) that I haven’t responded. I’m responding to this now, but I just saw it on January 28, 2019.

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