My Grandfather: Dr. Rufus Graham

The Flowers’ research will resume soon. If you are searching for more of the Flowers post please view older post or the family’s website, flowersfamilyproject.wordpress.com.

Another disclaimer, this blog post is way overdue. I initially finished last night; however, Windows Live Writer malfunctioned leaving me with a two day ago edit. Then I realized that when I post this, it will actually be on the day of my grandfather’s birthday. Happy birthday!

 

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My grandfather’s high school graduation photo. 

August 25, 1946-December 10, 1996

I have very few memories of my grandfather. He passed away when I was four years old. All I remember is his fro, which he rocked for a good minute, and sitting in his lap as we soaked our feet in a massage tub. I also remember his funeral. Sitting in a limousine, eating KFC, and attending at least two, perhaps three, funerals and memorial services held in his memory. I remember other’s mourning over his death. My mom crying. Nana crying. A community crying. My grandfather was a leader within the Maxton community (Robeson County, NC) serving on the Board of Education as a chairman and elected member, but his work did not stop there. He was a man of many hats—a pastor, advocate, leader, and most importantly a son, husband, father, and my grandpa.

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Of course, I had to include a picture of the grandkids also known as baby pictures of me. I am the scared child on the right side. Never was a fan of cameras. Faith, is leaning on my sister, LaTasha, who is holding my brother Marcus. Not pictured is the last member, Marissa.

My grandfather, Dr. Rufus Graham, was born and raised in Maxton, North Carolina to Frank and Lillie Ellison Graham on August 25, 1946. He would have been 68 years old today. He attended the local school, which today is known as R.B. Elementary School, where I received my preschool education. His mother and father were farmers, perhaps they were sharecroppers for they rented the land they plowed, but I am still researching his family’s history. Sadly, at the age of 2, my grandfather lost his father in an accident. His mother raised their 11 children…yes ELEVEN children…by herself.

According to my Nana, she met my grandfather while in elementary school. He lived near the city and she lived in the country Ironically, they both came from large families, my Nana’s mom had 12 children and my grandfather’s mom had 11. I tried to pry more details from my Nana, but she was not too keen on giving details. To make a supposedly long love story short, my Nana and grandfather married on August 25, 1966 at Cannon’s Temple Church of God.

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Grandparent’s marriage record

Their first child was born three years later on March 31, 1969. They named her my momma, or as others call her Frances. Shortly after her birth, my grandfather found Graham’s Temple Church of God in Christ in Laurinburg, NC. He served as the church’s pastor until his death in 1996.

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Because he was raised in Maxton, my grandfather wanted to ensure that the people’s need were met and not neglected by political and educational leaders in the Robeson County community. In 1973, he became an elected member in the Robeson County Board of Education System.

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In 1996, my grandfather was elected chairman. During this same decade, he went on to pastor another church. This one in his hometown of Maxton, NC. The only COGIC pastor in this town passed away leaving a vacancy in the church. Again, he was elected to take on this position and began to pastor at New Horizon COGIC while simultaneously continuing to pastor his other church in Laurinburg. Throughout his time with New Horizon, my grandfather pressed the congregation to seek a new building for they were worshipping in a small brick home. With much fundraising and support, the new site for New Horizon was built and is now currently lead by Pastor John and First Lady Deborah Brown. I have not been to the church since 2006, but I will never forget the portrait of my grandfather that hangs before the sanctuary’s entrance. His face is stern, yet welcoming. A hint of a smile lays across his face. His fingers are crossed, his suit is buttoned, and his eyes are at peace. I am unsure of who the artist is, but the original painting is located at my grandfather’s home. It is truly a beautiful painting and an accurate representation of my grandfather.

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According to my mom, her father was truly a selfless man. Alongside my Nana, he started a daycare providing childcare to children within the community working with working parents who worked early in the morning and late in the evening. He assisted people in securing their driver’s license whether they were young or old. He was passionate about education and sought for equality throughout the county’s districts representing the needs of his community. His last project was opening a senior living home in front of his Laurinburg church. This project remains uncompleted. The frames of the building continue to stand today. Perhaps one day someone will complete his dream. Following my grandfather’s death, his church, Graham’s Temple, was taken from my family and has been passed around for years. I am unsure of the reasoning behind this, but it was wrongly done. Given his leadership and importance in his community, the street on which Graham Temple stands has been renamed Rufus Graham Street. In January 1997, his birthday has been named Dr. Rufus Graham Day. See, I told you he was a great man.

So, blogging world I would like to formally introduce you to my grandfather, Dr. Rufus Graham.

Until the next post,

Christina

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6 responses to “My Grandfather: Dr. Rufus Graham

  1. Pingback: The Black Church and the Flowers Family (Part One) | Diary of a Historian·

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