Mary-Curtis Gramley and her husband, Dale Gramley. [courtesy photo]
Friends, family, customers, colleagues and children will gather at Hanley Farm at 2 p.m. on Sunday, September 18 to celebrate the life and work of Mary-Curtis Gramley, longtime local resident and the community’s leading child advocate.
Gramley, who died May 17, 2021, at the age of 84, taught at Southern Oregon University for several years, improving the early childhood education program and making it a primary focus for the college, according to a press advisory published Friday by Family Care Center.
“Mary-Curtis was the key leader in creating and developing the Master of Arts in Teaching program, which continues to be SOU’s dynamic teacher education program,” Steve Thorpe, professor emeritus, said in the release.
Gramley then moved to CASA and set up support systems for children and families in the justice system.
“She was a CASA attorney and she was an advocate for children through the child welfare system,” said Jackson County Juvenile Consortium Trustee John Hamilton.
Gramley’s “opus” was the Family Nurturing Center. Starting with supporting just two families, the organization now supports over 2,300 across its 13 different programs,” the statement read.
“I think what Mary-Curtis…was to us was a beacon of light. I often say she is our north star – that she keeps us on the right track for the right reasons,” said Lisa O’Connor, executive director of the Family Nurturing Center.
Gramley also helped Dr. Kerri Hecox establish Oasis, a family-centered medical clinic serving the needs of families affected by substance use disorders, the statement said.
“I think it’s rare to come across people who can really feel the magic that lives in children’s lives and worlds, and Mary-Curtis was one of the few people who really understood that, saw that and to feel that and honor that – and that his dedication to protecting this world for children, I think, was very, very unique and quite rare in this world,” said Kristen Johnson, Executive Director of Oasis.
Gramley’s son, Joe Gramley, will perform on Sunday’s program.
According to her obituary, Gramley was born on October 24, 1936, in Graham, North Carolina. She graduated from Salem College, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, in 1958 and began her career as an elementary school teacher.
When her youngest child started school, she continued her education, earning a master’s degree in counseling psychology (1980) and a doctorate. in Early Childhood Development (1988) at the University of Oregon.
She is survived by her husband, Dale Gramley, and their five children: Jane, Dale, Walter, Andrew and Joseph, and seven grandchildren. Sister Jane Beck lives in Burlington, North Carolina.