WESTHAMPTON, MA – Donald Rhoades Graham, 86, passed away peacefully at home under the care of Hospice of the Fisher Home. He was surrounded by family and friends during his last weeks until his death on March 30, 2021. Donald was born in Northampton, Massachusetts on October 11, 1934 and grew up in Williamsburg, MA, where he attended school before moving onto Northampton High.
A proud Korean War veteran, Donald enlisted in the US Navy on June 23, 1953 and served until June 6, 1957. During this time, he was stationed on both the U.S.S. ARD-16 and U.S.S. PURDY, where he met his friend of 65 years, Guy Fox. During a maintenance repair in dry dock, Guy noticed Don was pinned between ships and was able to save his life by pulling him to safety using a crane. This was just one of Don’s famous stories that he shared many times throughout his life. Guy and Don’s long-distance friendship lasted to the day of Don’s passing.
After returning home from the Navy, Don married his wife Nancy at Blessed Sacrament church in Northampton, MA on April 4, 1959. Don worked at the now-closed Berkshire Cable Company in Leeds where he worked his way to Foreman of the Braider Department. He spent 47 years of dedicated service and many long hours to provide for his family. Don had an unparalleled work ethic in everything he did, and stayed busy long into retirement.
Don was also an avid athlete- he was so proud to have pitched a no-hitter in the eighth grade for the championship youth baseball league. He continued playing softball until he retired, pitching at the age of 56 in the Maines field softball league, when he again pitched a 26-0 no-hitter. His competitiveness didn’t stop there, as he enjoyed golf, horseshoes, football, baseball, bowling, and the occasional hunting outing back in the early years.
Don is survived by his loving wife of 62 years, Nancy A. (Judd) Graham; his son Donald P. Graham and wife Kim Graham of Conway; his son-in-law Jim LaBerge and his granddaughter Kerri LaBerge of Westhampton; his grandson Casey LaBerge and wife Sarah of Belchertown; his brother Bob Graham and wife Peg of Easthampton; his sister Sandra (Graham) Greenwood and husband Edward of Goshen; his sister Darlene Graham and partner Tim Walters of Plainfield; and many wonderful cousins, nieces, and nephews.
Don joins his beloved daughter Beth A. (Graham) LaBerge, his parents James A. Graham and Mildred Rhoades Graham, his brother Jim Graham, and his sister Diane Thomas. Don’s infectious laugh and smile will be missed by all who knew him.
The family would like to thank Don’s many caregivers, especially Mary Ellen Prince, Kim Graham, Hospice of the Fisher Home, and Mass General Cancer Center at Cooley Dickinson Hospital. The family is also grateful for the support of Our Lady of the Hills Parish in Haydenville, where Don and Nancy attended services. In lieu of flowers, please send donations in Don’s name to the Cancer Connection of Northampton or Hospice of the Fisher Home.
A Graveside Service for Don with Military Honors is scheduled for Saturday, April 24, 2021 at 11:30am at the Village Hill Cemetery in Williamsburg. The Rev. Richard Bondi, Pastor of the Our Lady of the Hills Parish in Haydenville will be the celebrant, followed by the United States Navy Honor Guard.
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