Leon “Irvin” Graham, age 92 passed away at his home in Wallace, NC on Tuesday, December 8, 2020.
Born on December 29, 1927 in St. Pauls, NC Irvin was the eighth child of Archie and Lena Humphrey Graham. The family moved to Roseboro, NC in 1937. He graduated from Roseboro High School in 1944. His father taught him farming and the love of the land and his mother, a Meredith College graduate, taught him the love of literature and music.
The summer after his high school graduation he visited with principal H. P. Naylor and discussed his desire to attend college. Mr. Naylor took him to the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill where he, at the age of 16 and in a single day, took entrance exams, was accepted for admission to the Pharmacy School, worked out financial aid through a B C Headache Powder Scholarship, located employment in the campus dining halls, and officially entered the freshman class. While attending the University of North Carolina, he sang in the Varsity Men’s Glee Club.
In 1948, at the age of 20, he graduated from Pharmacy School but had to wait until he was 21 to take the NC State Pharmacy Board Exam. In February 1949 he took the board exam and scored the highest grade awarded that day.
His pharmacy work took him to Tart and West Drug in Roseboro, NC until 1950, then to Shields Drug Company in Carthage, NC. He was drafted into the Army in August 1950 and completed infantry basic training at Fort Jackson, SC, accepting his commission as a Second Lieutenant in 1951.
On September 29, 1951 he married the love of his life, Patricia Ann (Pat) Worthington. They spent their earliest weeks of marriage at Fort Sam Houston, Texas where he completed Assistant Battalion Aid Station School. He was deployed to Korea where he served 16 months with MASH Unit 8225 as Administrative Officer. He was awarded The Commendation Ribbon with Metal Pendant for meritorious achievement by displaying a superior sense of judgment and rare qualities of leadership by supervising the moving of his MASH Unit from one location to another within an eight-hour period allowing for limited disturbance of medical functionality.
He completed his military service stateside and was discharged from the United States Army at Fort Benning, GA, October 1953 where he served as a First Lieutenant with the Station Hospital, Pediatric Unit as a Medical Service Officer.
In October 1953, he and Pat moved to Wallace, NC where he worked with Wallace Drug. He and Pat completed their family after the birth of their three daughters, Pamela Ann on February 4, 1954, Ginny Lynn on April 3, 1956, and Sandra Irvin on July 10, 1957.
He opened Graham Drug in May 1957 which he operated for 32 years prior to his retirement. His son-in-law, Kevin Wilson and daughter Pamela Ann took over the operation I988. Mr. Graham continued to practice the profession he loved for over 60 years.
He devoted his life to family, music, community and church. At First Baptist Church in Wallace, he served as a Deacon, Chairman of the Finance Committee, and Sunday School Teacher. In the community he served on the Crippled Childrens’ Fund; the Selection Committee for the John Motley Morehead Foundation Scholarship; Trustee for the Duplin County Hospital; President of the Wallace Medical Commission; President of the Duplin County Arts Council; Recipient of the Bowl of Hygeia Award for Community Service in Pharmacy; Recipient of the North Carolina Hospital Trustee Association Award; and Recipient of the Governor’s Award in Arts and Humanities. On November 3, 2016, Mr. Graham was inducted into the Duplin County Hall of Fame and was also recognized as a Distinguished Alumnus by the University of North Carolina and the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy Alumni Association.
His hobbies included woodworking, cooking, yard work, reading, singing, current events, helping others in the community and spending time with his beloved wife. He and Pat knew they were blessed and gave God the credit for all they had.
Mr. Graham is survived by his daughters Pamela Ann Graham of Darlington, SC, Ginny Lynn Graham Bottenus of Darlington, SC, and Sandra Irvin Graham Cagle (Charles W. Cagle) of Franklin, TN. Grandchildren: Brandon Jerome Graham (Danielle Phelps Graham) of Goodlettsville, TN, John Daniel Brooks, PhD. of Hillsboro, OR, Mary Katherine Pope Simpson (Kenneth Simpson) of Lexington, KY, Kevin Graham Wilson (Callan Trippe) of Wilmington, NC; and SSGT David Rankin Wilson (Cassandra Blair Wilson) of Cameron, NC. Great Grandchildren: Bynum Gable Brooks of Hillsboro, OR; Rowan Oak Hemlock Graham of Goodlettsville, TN; Shephard Marsh Brooks of Hillsboro, OR; Ella Blair Wilson of Cameron, NC; Caroline Grace Simpson of Lexington, KY; River Absley Graham of Goodlettsville, TN; and Campbell Gray Simpson of Lexington, KY. He was predeceased by his wife of 61 years, Patricia Worthington Graham, in 2012. Also predeceased by his siblings: Allen Henderson Graham, Sarah Neal Graham Eakins, Myrtle Rose Graham Vinson, Norman Dwight Graham, Harold Dickson Graham, Helen Page Graham Downey, Clara Graham Whitfield, Charles Wayland Graham, and many nieces, nephews and friends.
Casket Bearers in Absentia: Brandon Jerome Graham, John Daniel Brooks, PhD., Kevin Graham Wilson, SSGT David Rankin Wilson, James Steward Graham, Graham Kerr Whitfield, PhD, Doyle Whitfield, Graham Whitfield
Honorary Casket Bearers: Robert Romines, Richard Harrell, John David Eakins, Jr. William Dwight Graham, Glenn Russell Graham, James Bryan Whitfield, PhD
Due to COVID-19, there will not be a visitation. A private graveside service will be led by Reverend Russ Evans, Peace Baptist Church, Calypso, NC at the Rockfish Cemetery in Wallace, NC.
When he graduated from UNC Pharmacy School, he had no material possessions except a diploma. But the good news is he had no debt, except gratitude, for help along the way. A Scholarship Fund has been established and will help someone in like circumstances finish pharmacy school and become a good citizen that will continue to give back. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy - L. Irvin Graham Scholarship for Community Pharmacy. https://give.unc.edu/donate?f=474863&p=phar
To contribute via check, please mail to:
L. Irvin and Patricia W. Graham Fund
UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy Foundation
194 Finley Golf Course Road, Suite 106
Chapel Hill, NC 27517
Padgett Funeral Home, Wallace, NC is in charge of the arrangements.
Not from the clamor of the crowded street, but from within thyself, are triumph and defeat….
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