James Richard Graham (Jim), passed away peacefully at his home in Andover on Monday, November 25, 2013, under the loving care of his wife Patricia Ann (Prater), sister Nancy Graham, other members of his family, and CRVNA Hospice.
Jim was born on November 1, 1948, in Haverhill, Massachusetts, the son of Richard G. Graham and the late Shirley I. Adams Smith. Although he spent many years living in various areas of the United States where his father, a career Naval Officer, was stationed on active duty, he attended Haverhill High School and always considered Haverhill as his home town.
Jim enlisted in the Navy in 1966. He was trained as an Aviation Crash and Rescue Firefighter at NAS Lakehurst, New Jersey and was assigned to the Aircraft Carrier USS Essex (CVS9) home ported at NAS Quonset Point, Rhode Island and operating in the Atlantic Fleet. He was Honorably Discharged from the Navy in 1968 and was authorized to wear the National Defense Service Medal.
Jim worked in Massachusetts until he relocated to New Hampshire in the late 1970s to be closer to family members who had moved there. For many years he worked in the automobile industry as an auto mechanic and Claims Adjuster for Ford Motor Company dealerships in and around Concord. After purchasing property in Andover, he continued to work in the auto industry until he became a counselor in the Multiple Offender Program, then located in Laconia. He completed his professional career as a mental health worker at the New Hampshire Hospital in Concord and retired from the State of New Hampshire in 2010.
Jim was an avid conservationist and bird lover. Driving certain highways near Andover, one can see many bird nesting houses and resting platforms located in remote, swampy areas of Andover that he had installed and carefully maintained for his feathered friends. Numerous bird houses in the woodlands surrounding his home also provide them a safe haven.
A visit to Jim and Pat’s home was a wonderful experience, even if just sitting on the deck watching the various types of birds during their feeding time. The birds knew they were being well provided for, and every day was like Thanksgiving Day for them. Jim often brought out a descriptive book which pictured hundreds of birds to be sure that everyone knew the specific type being watched; a very educational time and always enjoyable.
Jim loved being outside during all seasons of the year. His two particular recreational passions were riding his snowmobile on the many winter trails in New Hampshire and jet skiing on the various lakes and other waterways in the summer. He was always ready to go.
Being ready to face a new challenge and having a strong desire to become a fully accredited firefighter with the Andover Volunteer Fire Department, Jim applied for and was approved by the State of New Hampshire for training as a Firefighter, Class I. He successfully completed the course and was issued a Certificate of Completion by the New Hampshire Fire Standards and Training Commission, dated October 19, 2011.
When the graduating class was introduced to the general public in attendance and Completion Certificates were awarded, Jim was introduced as “the oldest person to ever start, complete, and certify successfully in a Firefighter One class at age 62,” certainly a proud moment for Jim and family.
Jim is survived by his loving wife Patricia; his son Scott; grandsons Jack and Max; his father Richard; stepmother Irene; sisters Linda Haidinger (Bill), Nancy Lee Graham, and Jeri Lee Smith; brothers Michael (Nancy), John, Edward (Jeanne), and Stephen Graham; and numerous nephews and nieces.
A celebration of life was held on December 2 at the Cremation Society of New Hampshire in Boscawen, followed by a memorial service. Interment followed at the New Hampshire State Veterans Cemetery in Boscawen.
In lieu of flowers, a donation can be made in Jim’s honor to the Andover Volunteer Fire Department, PO Box 117, Andover NH 03216, or to Concord Regional Visiting Nurse Association at The Slusser Center, 30 Pillsbury St, Concord NH 03301.
Jim, Until We Meet Again, Rest in Peace.