Robert F. “Bob” Graham III, age 76, of State Road, N.C., passed away Wednesday, June 21, 2023 at State Employees Credit Union Hospice Center in Yadkinville.
Bob was born June 1, 1947 to Robert “Bobby” Graham Jr and Sara Harrington Graham in Manning, SC. He grew up enjoying time at the family lake house and riding horses on his grandfather’s property. After graduating from Manning HS Bob chose to attend The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina, where he developed his drive, focus, and professionalism that would define his adult life. Bob achieved a goal of becoming a federal agent by joining the Treasury Department and was assigned to Wilkesboro, NC as a “revenuer.” His ‘temporary’ job would turn out to be life-changing as it led to both meeting his wife of 48 years, Glenda Ruth Couch Graham, as well as a career of more than 2 decades with the agency that became The Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms.
Bob had an illustrious career too long to fully enumerate here that was marked by several high-profile cases, leadership positions, and eventually being a supervisor for the National Response Team (NRT). During his career, Bob received many awards and commendations, including the Gallatin Treasury Medal, and was recognized for his many outstanding achievements. Bob was proudest not of the accolades but of the opportunities that his job gave him. He had traveled all over the country, worked with celebrities, been on national television, and even been a lead security specialist for the 1996 Olympic Games.
Bob retired early from ATF as the ASAC in Philadelphia, PA, to try his luck in the private sector. Here he carried several security certificates and brought his years of experience to training others at locations like TrainLogic LLC, and as head of security for The Philadelphia Community College. Bob’s efforts in the private sector would later lead The American Society of Industrial Security (ASIS) to reward him with their lifetime achievement award. During this time, Bob was invited to become a member of the Vidocq Society, a volunteer group dedicated to solving cold-case homicides.
Shortly after 9/11, Bob was asked to return to the government, where over the next five years, he led the training program for the newly reformatted Federal Air Marshal program. After completing his final Federal service (32 years total), Bob moved to North Carolina.
Unable to stay retired, he consistently worked corporate security contracts and was even on the North Carolina Private Protection Services Board. During his final years, Bob directed his energy to serving his local church, even going so far as to get a CDL so that he could drive the church bus. He loved teaching Sunday School and treated it with the same passion he brought to everything else he did.
Bob was always learning new skills and seemed to know how to do anything. He loved making home improvements, having done everything from simple tasks and hardwood floor installation to fully framing and wiring new rooms. Bob built not only furniture for the house but could make all sorts of lasting repairs. He loved to stay active and would often ride his bike for hours or could be seen running near the family home, often with his faithful four-legged friend Maggie.
People who did not know him well might assume that Bob had no hobbies, but the reality is that he did so much it was hard ever to define him by a select few activities. From starting a softball league with his co-workers, to putt-putt adventures or introducing his son to video games, Bob had a wide range of past-times.
Bob loved to travel with his family and friends, not just for work. He had been to almost every state in the US as well as several countries in Europe and was always open to the next adventure. Bob loved exploring historical sites, museums, and also giving tours to friends and family. Trips with his siblings for white water rafting, visiting Yellowstone, or exploring the Grand Canyon brought him great joy.
Bob enjoyed attending Freemason events with his son Jonathan and brother-in-law Sam. He maintained membership to lodges in Philadelphia, as well as Elkin, NC.
Bob was a firm follower of Jesus Christ and a member of several churches throughout his life. His last church community was PRBC, where he held several roles and, for many years, could be counted on to be there ‘whenever the lights were on.’ As Bob struggled with his final years, he was adamant that he was happy that God had given him a loving family and that all his accomplishments were gifts from God.
Robert was preceded in death by his parents and infant son Robert Christopher as well as his father-in-law Herman Couch and brother-in-law Sam Couch. Robert is survived by his wife Glenda, son Dr. Jonathan Stuart Graham, as well as his brothers Paul (Genie) and Ron (Kathy) Graham, and his sister Harriet (Tom) Bendle. He is also survived by his mother-in-law Stuart Simmons Couch and sister-in-law Jeanette Couch.
A funeral service will be conducted Sunday, June 25, 2023 at 4:00 p.m. at Pleasant Ridge Baptist Church with Rev. Dan Merritt and Rev. John Newton officiating. Interment will follow in Pleasant Ridge Baptist Church Cemetery. The family will receive friends one hour prior to the service at the church.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to Samaritan’s Purse Ministry, PO Box 3000, Boone NC 28607 or online at www.samaritanspurse.org or to the Pleasant Ridge Baptist Church Cemetery Fund, 1997 Pleasant Ridge Church Road, State Road, NC 28676.
The family thanks Mountain Valley Hospice and the SECU Hospice Home for their exceptional care and support to Bob and to the family.