Longtime Livingston deputy dies from ALS _lowres

Advocate file photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND -- Former, longtime Livingston Sheriff Willie Graves and his wife, Elaine, watch Denham Springs officials take the ALS ice bucket challenge in September at the Denham Springs Fire Station. Elaine, who had ALS, died Monday.

Elaine Edwards Graves, a longtime Livingston Parish deputy and wife of former Sheriff Willie Graves, died Monday. She was 52.

She was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, in April 2013.

Leaders around the parish united to spread awareness of ALS following Elaine Graves’ diagnosis. In September, current Sheriff Jason Ard reached out to the parish president, district attorney, parish assessor and school superintendant to participate in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, convincing them to endure an icy jolt to raise awareness and funding for the disease. They held a banner stating “We are ALL part of Team Elaine!”

The Denham Springs mayor and other city officials held their own Ice Bucket Challenge around the same time, which Elaine and Willie Graves attended.

“It’s overwhelming,” Willie Graves said at the time. “It’s humbling and encouraging to see that people are supporting ALS (research).”

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Willie Graves was sheriff from 1996 to 2012. Elaine Graves served as a deputy in the parish for 27 years, according to her obituary.

“She was always so kind. She thought of others first. She was seldom seen without a smile,” Ard wrote on his Facebook page Monday afternoon.

He specifically noted her dedication to the Sheriff’s Office annual Christmas Crusade, during which deputies deliver presents to underprivileged children.

Elaine Graves is survived by her husband, daughter Whitney Graves, and many in-laws and other relatives.

Visitation will be at Live Oak United Methodist Church in Watson on Thursday between 9 a.m. and noon, when the funeral will begin.