Jim was born June 11, 1930 in Greece, NY to Norman Graham and Ann (McKinlay) Graham. He died March 4, 2023 in Ithaca, NY while still being doted on by his wife of 70 years, Margie (Czapranski) Graham. He is survived by his brother Norman, children Mary, Dave (Kristina), and Ken, 11 grandchildren, many nieces and nephews, cousins Joan McPhail Milne and Rhoda Westlake Ross, and a warm extended family. He was predeceased by his sister Jean Hussey, children Jimmy and Keith, and nephew Bob Graham.
Those who knew him in his youth report that Jim was always either reading or drawing. He continued to produce prodigious lists of books he had read and those he wanted to read. He retained an astounding amount, providing insightful and often humorous comments between his thoughtful silences. He painted throughout his life, creating beautiful landscapes of the Maine coast he loved to visit as well as personal holiday cards for those dear to him.
Jim particularly loved swing and jazz music. The moment he turned seventeen, he bought a bus ticket to New York City. Too young to get into the clubs, he lingered outside the doors to hear as much jazz as he could before returning home the next day.
Jim met Margie when they both worked at Rochester Savings Bank. It took several tries to get her to agree to go out with him, but once she did, they became an inseparable team. They wed before he was sent to Fort Sill Oklahoma where they had the fondest memories of beginning their married life. Jim went on to serve with distinction as a US Army lieutenant on the front lines of the Korean war. That time affected him profoundly and he wrote about his experience so that he could share it with his family.
After the war, Jim resumed his banking career and rose through the ranks at Marine Midland. One notable project that he worked on was the introduction of the first consumer credit cards in the 1960s. His favorite work, though, was helping small businesses and prospective homeowners. He was that rare banker whose name brought a smile to people’s faces. He retired after 41 years.
Always a gardener, he was able to spend more time nurturing his roses. He enjoyed a couple trips to Scotland, visiting the places of his parents’ youth. He recounted with amusement how, on a side trip to Paris, a waiter insisted on bringing him wine with lunch despite his sensibility-offending order of Coke.
Jim was fun, funny, and endlessly interesting. He had a rich life with varying interests, yet the core of it all was his abiding dedication to his family. He gave us all, together and individually, the gifts of time, attention, love, and laughter.
He once convinced his young children that he had been awakened by the Easter Bunny. They came to know the truth about Easter Bunnies within a few years, then further appreciated his humor when they realized, decades later, that his "6 foot Bunny in overalls" bore a suspicious resemblance to Jimmy Stewart’s 'Harvey'.
To his family, he provided rock solid love, sane counsel, joy, a beacon and inspiration to be an exemplary person. He’s a tough act to follow.
In honor of Jim, consider really appreciating a flower, biting your tongue when frustration hits, and sticking with love when the going gets tough.
Funeral arrangements have been entrusted to Bangs Funeral Home, Ithaca, NY. Online condolences may be made to Jim’s family at www.bangsfuneralhome.com.
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