Unique event to recall career of Cherryvale's Vivian Vance
September 11, 2008

CHERRYVALE - Area television buffs will be entertained on Saturday when two people connected with the "I Love Lucy" TV series of the 1950s come to Cherryvale to honor Vivian Vance, best known for her role as Ethel Mertz on that early-TV era sitcom.

Lou Ann Graham of Albuquerque, New Mexico, is the youngest sister of Vance and will be making her pilgrimage to Vance's birthplace along with Wanda Clark of Tulsa, Okla. Clark was the personal secretary to actress Lucille Ball prior to Ball's death in 1989.

The two women will appear in a presentation sponsored by the Cherryvale Chamber of Commerce at 6 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 13, in the Cherryvale Middle-High School Commons Area. Admission is $2.00 for children (age 5-18) and $3.00 for adults (children under the age of 5 are free) and will include a chicken noodle dinner. The public is invited to attend.

Following the dinner and presentations by Graham and Clark, guests will view various episodes of the "I Love Lucy" series that featured Vance.

"It should be a great evening for people who enjoyed watching the Lucy shows on television or who have an interest in local history," said Tina Cunningham, president of the Cherryvale Chamber of Commerce.

Vance, who died in 1979, was born in Cherryvale in 1909, the second child to Robert and Euphemia Mae (Ragan) Jones. The Jones family lived in various locations in Cherryvale while Robert owned and operated the Bob Jones Cafe located at 218 E. Fourth in downtown Cherryvale. The Joneses resided in various locations in Cherryvale until the family moved to Independence in 1915, where Vance attended school and cut her teeth into the acting profession as a student at Independence High School.

There were six children born to Robert and Euphemia Mae Jones, however Vivian was the only one of the six who was born in Cherryvale. An older sister, Venus, lived in Cherryvale during her youth years. Other siblings included Dorothy, or "Dot" as she is known in the family; Maxine, Robert Max Jones, Jr., and Lou Ann.

While they lived in Independence, Robert Jones and brother Ralph owned and operated the Jones Brothers Grocery located at 16th and Myrtle streets, two blocks west of Mercy Hospital. Vivian left home in 1927 to start her acting and entertainment career. The Jones family moved to New Mexico one year later so that Euphemia Mae Jones, who was diagnosed with an asthmatic condition, could live in a drier climate.

Lou Ann Graham was only an infant when the Jones family moved from Montgomery County to New Mexico. Except for a return trip to southeast Kansas to visit family when she was 3 years of age, Lou Ann has not been back to the Cherryvale-Independence area in almost 70 years, Cunningham said.

Memorabilia about the "I Love Lucy" television series will be on display at Saturday night's dinner and presentation with most of the items coming from a private collection belonging to Cunningham, who is an avid collector of Lucy and Vance mementoes.

Prior to the Saturday evening dinner and presentation with Graham and Clark, Lou Ann Graham will visit privately with distant cousins who still live in the Cherryvale area. Among them are three people from Cherryvale, including Imogene Littell, Jack Ragan and Carilyn Clark. Another distant cousin is Marilyn Goodwin of Bartlesville, Okla. Those four area residents are second cousins to Lou Ann Graham.

The family-only event will be held at noon at the Big Hill Lodge.

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