Oquareitta W. Graine

March 17, 2015

Graine, Oquareitta Obituary

Oquareitta Artimissia White Graine

May 23, 1920 – March 17, 2015
Oquareitta Artimissia White Graine, the oldest of eight children of the late Dr. Rev. John W. White and Salena Philpot White, peacefully departed  from this life on Tuesday, March 17, 2015 at home in Hackensack, N.J. surrounded by family members.  She was born in Kentucky, May 23, 1920.  In 1925 the White family moved to Urbana, Ohio for several months and then moved to Monroe, Michigan.
Oquareitta graduated from Monroe High School in Monroe, Michigan in 1938.  In High School she was a member of the Glee Club all four years, Girls Athletic Association, Girls Basketball Team, A Cappella Choir and the Senior Play.  After High School Oquareitta studied at Fisk and Wilberforce University. It was at Wilberforce that she became a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.  In 1940, Oquareitta returned home to Michigan to complete her college career at Adrian College, (Adrian, MI) where she played on the women’s basketball team with her sister Mary, and was a member of the Adrian College Choir.  She was awarded the Dorothy McNurlan Memorial Scholarship for her outstanding work in the field of music.  When she graduated from Adrian College on June 7th 1942 with a degree in music, it was fitting that her father, at this time pastor of Second Baptist Church in Adrian, was asked to pronounce the benediction at the graduation, since she was the first African American to ever have graduated from that College.
In the summer 1939, Oquareitta and sister Annetta traveled to Kalamazoo, MI to sing at a Sunday School Convention and there she met, Jess Arthur Graine, they fell in love and in 1940 they married.  Shortly after they married, Jess deployed in the Army to the South Pacific during World War II, Oquareitta remained in Monroe until his return.  After WWII on Labor Day 1945, the White family and Graine family moved to Hackensack, NJ looking for better opportunities for employment.  Oquareitta and Jess had one son, Richard.  In addition she was “Auntie Mom” to two nephews’ Janmichael and Paul Graine whom she helped raise after the death of their parents. 
Oquareitta began singing with Eastern Choral Guild soon after arriving to New Jersey and then in the early 1950’s she sang with The Goldenaires Choir, and in the mid 1950’s she became its choral conductor.  The Goldenaires Choir sang on radio, TV and numerous venues from Washington to New York, to include Carnegie Hall and singing with Mahalia Jackson.   She continued conducting The Goldenaires until the mid 1960’s producing several albums, to include “Negro Spirituals by The Goldenaires Choir” (1959) “Hear the word of the Lord”(1959), “Songs of the Southern Mountains” (1959) and “Negro Spirituals by The Tell Tale Singers and The Goldenaires Choir” (1964).  Oquareitta and Jess were good friends with Eubie Blake, the great American composer and pianist of ragtime and jazz.  On several occasions he played the piano in their home.
                Oquareitta loved the Lord.  Her favorite bible verse was Psalm 118:24, “This is the day that the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it” and her favorite song was “Since Jesus came into my heart”.   This is an upbeat song that she loved.   She was the organist and choir director for her father’s church, Calvary Baptist Church in Haverstraw, New York, and Ebenezer Baptist Church in Englewood, NJ for many years.  She served as substitute organist for numerous churches in New Jersey and New York well into her eighties to include Presbyterian Church of Teaneck.  For over thirty years, she worked as a legal secretary for Attorneys Carlos Peay and Mr. Myers in Hackensack.  Oquareitta became so knowledgeable that you thought she was an attorney. 
Oquareitta is preceded in death by her husband Jess, sisters Mary Clark and Lydia Brown and Brother John White.  She leaves behind to mourn her passing, her son Richard (Delayvian) of Hackensack, Sisters Annetta O’Bryant of Joliet, IL; Celestine Trott of Englewood, NJ; Helen Gray (Ronald) of Baltimore, MD; and Jessie Rich of Philadelphia, and a host of nieces and nephews.  Oquareitta was also a loving and devoted pet owner to several dogs over the years that provided constant companionship, to include her little Maltese, “Lady D”, her last dog, who will miss her too! .                                          
Loving submitted,        The Family




March 25, 2015

Funeral Service
Presbyterian Church of Teaneck

Teaneck, NJ

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