Hometown Heroes: Quart Graves

By M.G. Angulo –

Rey Aguillar and Quart Graves.

Quart Graves considers his borrowed time precious beyond means. He can recall vividly that phone call he received from his doctor in 1997 informing him that he had metastatic cancer. That was it, he thought. He would lose what he most treasured in his life: his wife Carrie of 35 years and his four children. But that was more than 20 years ago. That was 15 cancer surgeries ago. That was three beloved grandchildren ago.  His illness is not gone, though. It remains, as he said, in his side like a thorn.

Graves recently spoke to 6,000 people as a keynote speaker at a Chick-fil-A national convention in a speech called Blessings of the Thorn, which is available on YouTube. In his speech he delves into a level of positivity, inspiration and spirituality that he feels could change not only the work environment of Chick-fil-A, but any person willing to listen.

Graves said his illness gave him a clear mission: to share the knowledge of God to as many people as possible. To reach as many hearts as possible. To change as many lives as he can, while he can. “I have been fighting a terminal illness for a number of years,” Graves said. “And what I’ve learned is that life has to be about significance and that the unifying force in our lives is faith.

“But,” he interjects. “I wouldn’t be who I am without my wonderful wife. God has used her to teach me over the years. Her heart is so amazing, and she is filled with such generosity. I couldn’t talk to you without talking about her. She is the heartbeat of our marriage.”

“I think he’s sweet to say that,” Carrie Graves said in response. “I have to say Quart has brought amazing adventures into my life.”

And the adventures of this Needville couple have been aplenty. “As a Chick-fil-A operator, I have had a lot of opportunities to get involved with the community,” said Graves. “I serve on five different boards, and Carrie, who retired about two years ago, loves working with children, women and going to schools helping improve education.”

Although Carrie devotes more of her time to her children and grandchildren – all three of whom she easily gushes over  – she continues to get involved with the community with her husband, most notably with Lifeshape, which initiates projects worldwide to improve lives around the world.

“Carrie has been all over the world with me through Lifeshape,” said Graves. “We’ve been to Haiti several times, and recently we went there to drill a well. And while there, we went to this hospital with horrible conditions.” He pauses, the memory rushing back with all of its reality and heartache. “I saw a man with this beautiful baby who was sound asleep, and I wanted to take a photo,” he said, again with another pause. “But Carrie pulled me aside, and said ‘No, you can’t take that picture.’ As it turns out, the baby had died of a waterborne illness. The child wasn’t asleep like I thought. That baby died because there wasn’t clean water. All we needed to do to help the Haitians is pull up this clean water from deep in the ground,” he continued, the memory still raw.

“So many years ago when we went on our first mission trip, we thought we’d be a blessing to them. In fact, they were a blessing to us. Each experience teaches us new lessons.” The next mission trip for the Graves is to Thailand to help address the problem of sex trafficking.

Closer to home, the couple has served and serve on several boards throughout the community like the Needville Education Foundation, Child Advocates of Fort Bend, LifeWay Haven and Bill Glass Behind the Walls, which is a prison ministry program.

The Graves also volunteer as a couple whenever the opportunities arise. Several months ago Carrie and Quart were asked to serve on the board of Living Water International, a ministry based in Stafford. And for the past seven years, Graves and his wife have hosted two ministries of their own on their Eden 2 Ranch in Needville: the Hospitality Ministry and Iron Man Ministry.

The Iron Man Ministry is held on the first Monday of every month, where people who are of faith, are searching for it or do not have faith, sit around a fire pit, talk, worship and inspire one another. The Hospitality Ministry is the Graves literally opening their ranch to those in need, such as people going through tough times “We had a family stay a month after being displaced because of Hurricane Harvey,” Graves said. Churches, groups and organizations, like Attack Poverty for example, who need a place to host gatherings or are in need of a safe, welcoming environment for staff retreats are also welcome. “It doesn’t matter if it is a big group or a small one,” Graves said. “We just love doing what we can.”

“We’ve lived in Fort Bend County since 1990, and we feel really blessed to live here,” said Graves. “It’s an amazing place to be, filled with gracious and wonderful people. We’re people of a really deep faith and servant leadership is our model, so Carrie and I have a real passion to serve the communities. And we love to do what we can.”

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