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John Benjamin Graham Jr.

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John Benjamin Graham Jr. was born at home in Messick, Virginia on July 27, 1934. He graduated from Poquoson High in 1951 as a multi-sport athlete and Senior Class President. He excelled at football and went on to play at Randolph Macon College where he graduated with a degree in Physics. He was a four-year letterman and two-time team captain, and was also named Little All-American his senior year. He was a member of Lambda Chi Fraternity and the Boydton Society. In 2015, he was inducted into the RMC Athletic Hall of Fame. His distinguis­hed profession­al career began at NASA lasting 19 years and included working side by side with the original seven astronauts during the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo missions. Amongst his many positions, John was responsibl­e for reconstruc­ting images which were taken from deep space for orbital tracking purposes. John holds the honor of being the first person to ever view a photograph of the earth from the moon's surface. He was later promoted to the Missions Operation Manager for the Viking Project to Mars when he was faced with the most difficult decision of his life. In 1973, John's father died suddenly, leaving the future of their family seafood business, Graham & Rollins in doubt. John's passion to preserve this family legacy cemented his decision to retire early from NASA to run the family business. While President, John grew the business threefold, employing family members, including his children with his wife of 37 years, Sandra Graham. John and Sandy raised their family in White House Cove. This waterfront neighborho­od which took him over seven years to complete was John's vision, made possible by his creativity and hard work. Several of his NASA coworkers as well as family members and close friends still reside there today. The memories created from his home, which was also built by him, has served as the centerpiec­e of many gatherings for families and friends. During this time, John discovered his passion for the sport of wrestling. Having never wrestled himself, he became involved while supporting his sons who began wrestling at an early age. John recognized that to be successful in the sport, you needed to maintain the qualities that had carried him so far in life: determinat­ion, dedication, and discipline. John took his energy and made his mark on wrestling as well. John was integral in the creation of the Peninsula Wrestling Associatio­n and the founding of the Virginia Duals. This is a one-of-a-kind team dual tournament where high school and college wrestlers compete side by side. It began in 1981 at the Hampton Coliseum and continues today. John followed the Olympic wrestling team across the globe beginning in 1984. He served as the team leader in the 1988 and 1996 Olympics with his most cherished memory of participat­ing in the opening ceremonies. John was a recipient of the Order of Merit for the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, and he was also inducted to the Virginia Wrestling Hall of Fame and the Lower Peninsula Hall of Fame. Additional honors include the Paul Harris Fellow and the Order of the Bullpen. He was a member of the Hampton Roads Assembly, Virginia Seafood Council, Peninsula Sports Club, and he was on the Board of the former First Virginia Bank. He officially retired in the late 90's and celebrated by showing up for work the next day. During retirement, he and his partner, Trish Lively, enjoyed traveling extensivel­y. Their most memorable trip was venturing across-country to Alaska. The foundation of John's life was built on faith and spending time with family and friends. Each fall, he looked forward to the Poquoson Seafood Festival, working alongside those he loved and celebratin­g the community's tradition. He loved the outdoors, hunting, fishing, clamming, and boating. He spent countless hours in the bleachers, never missing an opportunit­y to watch his kids and grandkids compete. Distance was not a factor. If there was an event he was going to be there. John is preceded in death by his parents: John Benjamin Graham Sr. and Helen Forrest Graham; and his sister, Gloria Fisher. He is survived by his three children: Terri Graham Wallace, John B. Graham III (Amy), and Casey N. Graham (Tara); eight grandchild­ren: Morgan Wallace, Graham Wallace, Alexandra Graham, Chandler Graham, John B. Graham IV, Trent Graham, W. Ross Graham, and Evan Graham; his siblings: Margaret Fluharty, Helene Hogan, Felton Graham (Patti); numerous nieces and nephews; and his loving partner of 21 years, Trish Lively. The legacy of John's life will be kept alive by his loving family, friends, and those he touched throughout his life. His family would like to thank Edgeworth Park at New Town and his compassion­ate nurse, Nina Edwards, with At Home Hospice Care. A memorial service will be held at Trinity United Methodist Church at 1294 Poquoson Avenue Poquoson, VA on February 1, 2024 at 2:00 PM. A Celebratio­n of Life will be held immediatel­y following the service at the Poquoson Yacht Club, located at 417 Messick Road Poquoson, VA from 3:30 PM-6:30 PM. The family asks that in lieu of followers, donations can be made to the John B. Graham Memorial Scholarshi­p, managed by the Poquoson Education Foundation. Checks can be mailed to: PEF, P.O. Box 2425, Poquoson, VA 23662

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