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CEO and professor Graham dies

By Bryan Richardson

John R. Graham, a leader in the Manhattan academic and business community, died of cancer Friday at age 68.

“He is a very dear friend, and I’m just broken up over it,” said C. Clyde Jones, K-State business college’s first dean.

Graham, chairman and CEO of Graham Capital Management, Inc., held many positions in the community over the years.

“Everyone in Manhattan is saddened by his passing,” longtime friend Terry Arthur said. “Manhattan has lost one of the outstanding citizens of the community for the last 40 years.”

Graham was born August 14, 1945, in Liberal.

Jones said he first met Graham when he was an “extremely bright and personable and outgoing” senior at Great Bend High. Jones was on a trip to see prospective students.

“He appeared to be a young man with unlimited potential,” Jones said. “He’s met that in every aspect of his career.”

Jones said Graham would often tell the story about how he took a trip with Jones to a professional meeting in Kansas City to receive an outstanding student award

“He guiltily told people he thought I was old at that time,” Jones said. “He was right.”

Graham graduated with a B.S. in Accounting from Kansas State University in 1967.

Graham later attended the University of Arkansas, graduating with a M.B.A. in 1969 and a Ph.D. in Accounting and Finance in 1971.

Graham also received a Chartered Life Underwriter certification in 1977 and completed the Chartered Financial Consultant program in 1984, both from The American College of Financial Services.

After working as a research assistant at the University of Arkansas in 1969 and 1970, Graham began his professorship at the K-State business school.

He became an adjunct professor from 1979-1999 and served as an executive-in-residence and finance professor starting in 2000.

Graham worked for the Kansas Farm Bureau from 1979 to 1999, including a stint as CEO of Farm Bureau Financial Services

Dave Fiser served as vice-president and sales manager during Graham’s tenure at the bureau.

Fiser said Graham was a good boss. He said Graham was always involved with employees and independent contractors.

“He provided outstanding leadership for our farm bureau and affiliated companies,” he said. “He was a ‘can-do guy.’ He could get things done and was always thinking ahead.”

Graham was a member of the American Society of Financial Services Professionals, National Association of Corporate Directors, and Manhattan Chamber of Commerce.

Graham also was a long-term member of the Manhattan Rotary Club, KSU Foundation Board of Trustees, KSU College of Business Administration Business Advisory Council, Kansas Council on Economic Education Board of Trustees, KSU Newman Foundation Board of Trustees, and Mercy Community Health Foundation Board of Trustees and Executive Board.

Graham was a founder of the Greater Manhattan Community Foundation.

Arthur, a friend of Graham’s since 1970, said Graham’s affiliation with both Kansas State and the business world helped foster a strong bond between the two communities.

“He was one of many that helped continue the good relationship between the university and business communities,” Arthur said.

Graham was the author of more than 30 professional papers and publications.

He served as co-author with Arthur on the book, “Keeping What’s Yours: Estate Planning After Tax Reform” in 1977.

“He was highly intelligent and very personable and extremely capable in all areas that he undertook,” Arthur said. “He was a very nice and caring person.”

Graham, an avid golfer, played in a weekend group for decades with Jones and Arthur, among others.

Arthur said he didn’t play golf before Graham encouraged it.

“John was the best golfer by far,” Arthur said. “It was great friendship and camaraderie among everybody that played. We were all good friends on and off the course.”

Jones said he remembers the nickname Graham used for him during these times, “Seeclydian,” which Jones sometimes uses as an e-mail moniker.

“I always treasured that because it came from John,” he said. “He always did have a good sense of humor.”

Arthur said Graham was a K-State sports fan, and they held season tickets for basketball.

“We have done so many things together, not only business-wise,” Arthur said. “We used to celebrate Christmas Eve together for many, many years. Our children are very close friends and our wives are very close friends.”

Funeral services are being scheduled for early January.

Complete obituary and service information will be announced later by the Yorgensen-Meloan-Londeen Funeral Home.

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