Cover photo for John S. Graham's Obituary
John S. Graham Profile Photo
1930 John 2020

John S. Graham

November 19, 1930 — November 26, 2020

John Seaver Graham, son of the late Warren and Mary Graham, died peacefully on Thanksgiving Day, November 26. With his wife Nancy, John was a longtime resident of Harvard, living in the house he designed on Warren Avenue since 1962.

John was born in Marlborough, Massachusetts on November 19, 1930. He graduated from Marlborough High School in 1948 where he was voted "Most Serious Boy" and simultaneously recognized for his "wonderful sense of humor." He graduated from Northeastern University in 1953 with a degree in electrical engineering. He met Nancy while they were both working at Raytheon and after four years of persistent courtship she accepted his proposal. They married in 1960, beginning a love affair that lasted 60 years. Upon leaving Raytheon he became a manager in the apple pie division at Table Talk Pies in Worcester and subsequently shared his expertise in matching apple varieties to cooking needs all his life. He always made the best applesauce. In 1972 he purchased Lou's Electric Supply in Leominster, which he owned and managed for 25 years.

Two events in the 1990's ushered in a new phase in John's life: the birth of his first grandchild, Thomas Edward Downing, and the discovery of steamboating. As Ted grew up and was joined by his sister Lizzie and cousin Finn, John built the 17-foot wooden steam launch Mary Seaver, joined the North American Steamboat Association and the Lee's Mills Steamboat Association, and steamed on lakes and rivers across New England. John and Nancy spent many happy days and weeks at meets in New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, and Florida and were beloved members of the steamboating community. John always said a bad day on the water was better than a good day doing almost anything else. A 2015 article in the New Hampshire Salmon Press quoted John saying "steamboating is 70 percent people and 30 percent steamboats."

John was known for his kindness, good nature, love of history, affability, french toast, bear hugs, gravy for the Thanksgiving turkey, the great breadth of his knowledge, and his lively and perpetual sense of humor. He always had a new joke (or three) on hand. He made a point to brighten the day of everyone he encountered and delighted in making people smile and laugh. He adored his children and grandchildren and was devoted to Nancy.
John was predeceased by his sisters Ruth (Graham) Pahl and Jeanne (Graham) Smithers.

John is survived by his wife of 60 years, Nancy Ellen (Phelps) Graham; his brother Alan Graham and his wife Beverly (Marlborough); his daughters Heather (Cambridge) and Amanda (Devens); his terrific sons-in-law Robert Downing and Clayton Hobart; and his grandchildren Thomas Edward Downing, Elizabeth Graham Downing, and Finnegan John Graham Hobart.

Visiting hours and services are private and will be limited to family due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Donations in John's memory may be made to:

The Loon Preservation Committee in Moultonborough, NH:

or The Worcester Food Bank:


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