DAVID CECIL GRAHAM SR.
SEPT. 3, 1931-APRIL 13, 2017
Funeral services for David Cecil Graham Sr., were be at 3 p.m. Monday, April 17 at First Baptist Church, Natchitoches, with the Rev. Thomas Rush officiating. Interment followed at Memory Lawn Cemetery, Natchitoches. David Cecil Graham Sr., 85, of Natchitoches passed away in Shreveport April 13, 2017. He was born to Cecil Graham and Lise Coffey Graham Sept. 3, 1931, in Shreveport and grew up and attended schools in Natchitoches. While attending Natchitoches High School, he was selected as All-State guard on the teams that won the basketball state championship in both 1947 and 1948. Upon graduation from Natchitoches High School in 1948, he entered Northwestern on a basketball and baseball scholarship. When the Korean War began in 1950, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy. He served in the Korean War Zone as a Navy Beach-Master and other units of the Amphibious Forces. He rose through the ranks as Petty Officer. During his Navy tenure, he was also selected to the all-star US Navy Pacific basketball team and represented the Navy throughout the Far East playing Army, Air Force and Marine teams. He was one of the four Navy men in the Far East selected to climb Mt. Fuji (elevation 12,385 ft.), in Japan as a public relations gesture with Japan, since Mt. Fuji is considered a sacred Japanese shrine. After the war, in 1954, he returned to Northwestern where he served as student Senate president, president of Tau Kappa Epsilon (Lambda Zeta) fraternity and vice president of the intra-fraternity Council. Upon graduation from Northwestern in 1956, he entered the insurance field as a group insurance representative for Washington National Insurance Company of Evanston, Ill. He served 15 years as a regional group manager for Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee. He was selected as the outstanding group field representative in 1959 and again in 1960 from a group Field Force of over 100 Representatives. He was a noted public speaker in the field of group insurance at various sales conventions around the country such as Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco, Denver, Chicago, Miami and Colorado Springs. From 1980 until his retirement in 1997, he was President and CEO of Tennessee and Southern Inc., located in Memphis, Tenn., which was one of the largest employee benefit insurance firms in the state. Living in Natchitoches over the past 20 years, he served as a deacon and choir member for the First Baptist Church, several offices in the Gideon organization, chairman of the Central Louisiana retirement commission, chairman of “Keep America Beautiful for Natchitoches” during which the city won the state award for the cleanest city, the Chamber of Commerce, president of the Lions Club for Natchitoches, board member for the Natchitoches Historic Foundation, and member of the association for the preservation of Historic Natchitoches, where he served as chairman of the Melrose Arts and Crafts Festival in 2000. He was president of the Natchitoches / Northwestern Symphony Society for two years where he sponsored the famous “To Louisiana from Russia with Love” fundraising concert featuring the Russian pianist Nikita Fitenko. He was a member of the VFW and was a mason. He is survived by three daughters, Elycia Abrusley Gravel and husband Charles Greg of Alexandria, Cynthia Carole McQueen and husband Steve of Natchitoches, and Dana Lise Baggett and husband Mark of Little Rock, Ark.; one son, David C. Graham Jr. and wife Rebecca of Magnolia, Ark.; 13 grandchildren, Erin Ingo and husband Corey, Brooke, Kristen, and Ashley Abrusley, Britton and Ragan McQueen, Hannah Rondina and husband Anthony, Christopher, Drew, Tommy Baggett, Macye, Katie, and Patrick Graham; one great-grandchild, Ava Claire Ingo; three brothers, Roy Graham and Lucretia Holmes Graham of Dallas, Dr. Edward Graham and wife Marsha of Natchitoches, and Stuart Graham and wife Barbara of Austin, Texas; and one sister, Cecilia Possoit and husband Johnny of Natchitoches. He was preceded in death by his wife, Carolyn Farnsworth Graham; and his parents, Cecil Claire Graham and Lise Coffey Graham. Those honored to be pallbearers include Britton McQueen, Ragan McQueen, Chris Baggett, Drew Baggett, Tommy Baggett and Patrick Graham. Honorary pallbearers were Donald Gates, John Ropp, Dan Poole, David Kees, Dwane Murphy, Charles Cloud, Steve Elliot, Jim Lofton, Clyde Osborne, Johnny Possoit, Doug Pesnell, Bob Pender, Greg Gravel, Steve McQueen and Mark Baggett. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to Natchitoches Hope for Paws or to First Baptist Church in Natchitoches.