Celebrating the life of George Lewis Graham
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George Lewis Graham was born in Sacramento, California on January 29, 1941. His mother Myrtle (neé Christian) was born in Minneapolis and raised mostly in Europe. His father Harold, born in New Zealand, was a dentist.
George had a complex lifelong relationship with religion. He grew up in the Seventh Day Adventist Church and attended the SDA schools Lodi Academy, where he was class president, and Pacific Union College in Angwin, CA, where he earned a degree in biblical languages. In his twenties, he made a decision to leave the Adventist church, but continued his religious education, twice attending the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, Calif. – once as an Adventist and returning years later as an Episcopalian.
George moved to Boston in 1967 with his then wife Katherine. He applied for work as a taxi driver but was turned down because he refused to shave off his beard. But he found a job in the nascent field of computer programming, and relished both the intellectual challenge and his off-beat colleagues. He attended Emmanuel Church in Boston and particularly loved the Bach cantata performed every Sunday at the end of service. Sometimes he would go just for the cantata.
In 1986 George enrolled in Harvard Divinity School. A major project there involved memorizing and performing the Book of Job, wearing masks for Job and for God, and sometimes sporting a JOB baseball cap. While George’s divinity school pursuits did not lead to a degree, they did end up yielding something more important: he met Ruth Dane there and they remained together until his death.
George and Ruth loved to travel, and in 1992 they began Baltic Fire, a business importing amber jewelry from the Baltic region. They would frequently visit amber-crafting friends in Latvia and Lithuania, and spent many weekends selling and making more friends at crafts fairs around New England.
The amber business continued after George retired in 1999 and moved with Ruth to Rhode Island. They lived in Providence, East Greenwich (where singing in the St. Luke’s choir was a highlight for him) and eventually Wakefield, and spent many summers in Matunuck. At their place at Roy Carpenter’s Beach, George tended to an extensive whirligig collection and crafted their hedge into a fearsome topiary sea monster.
George died on March 1, 2022 of complications due to pneumonia.
He had deep lifelong loves of the bible, the mountains, and music, in particular Bach. He was a great appreciator of hats, sweets (in particular ice cream), fancy shirts, scotch, and cigars. He is remembered as a man of kindness, openness, humor, spiritual depth, and irreverence.
He is survived by his partner Ruth Dane, his son Michael Graham, his brother Eric Graham, his sister Tina Ruggieri, Ruth’s daughters Elisabeth Farnum and Polly Fraga, and their children Simone Obara, Elise Farnum, Sophie Fraga, Jonathan Fraga, and Luke Fraga.
Donations can be made in his name to Community Musicworks in Providence (www.communitymusicworks.org).
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