• 70°

Bill Graham honored for civic achievements

By Mark Wineka
mwineka@salisburypost.com
SALISBURY — Lawyers develop strong hides out of necessity, and it’s a good thing given all the ribbing Salisbury attorney Bill Graham absorbed Friday night.
But it was prelude to Graham’s receiving the Community Care Clinic’s 2011 Humanitarian Award. The yearly event, held on the Catawba College campus, represents the biggest fundraiser for the clinic, which provides free medical, dental and prescription services to needy residents in Rowan County.
Funded by grants and donations, the clinic is located at 315-G Mocksville Ave.
For Graham, the night proved to be both roast and toast.
Friends and co-workers needled Graham, a 2008 Republican candidate for governor, about his well-coifed hair, extremely white teeth, skinny legs, pink shirts, GOP philosophies and his big house.
“I thought we were doing Billy Graham,” the night’s emcee Kent Bernhardt said before a video highlighting the triumphs of the famous Southern evangelist began playing.
Bernhardt cut the video short, apologized, then showed a revised presentation with images of Bill Graham super-imposed over those of Billy Graham.
But the friends spent more time praising Graham’s philanthropy in the community and the caring he shows for clients.
His law partner, Mona Lisa Wallace, said Graham shows great compassion for the law firm’s clients with terminal illnesses, besides meeting with their families and calling their doctors.
He’s a man who cares about his clients and knows their stories, speakers said.
Graham and his wife, Shari, whom he met at Catawba College, also are leading givers in the community. The Grahams buy turkeys, hams or chicken each month for Rowan Helping Ministries, which estimates that over time the couple have fed 29,000 people with their gifts.
Former Mayor Margaret Kluttz said Graham puts his money where his mouth is.
Diane Fisher said Graham becomes especially upset when people are treated unfairly.
His political science professor at Catawba, Dr. Sanford Silverburg, said despite Graham’s political views, he was “a pretty neat guy” who contributed an enormous amount to the community.
Sue Fisher, co-chair of the planning committee for the event, said Graham is a person “who understands that we are all on this earth for a purpose, that in order to have a great community, we must build it ourselves.”
“Our honoree,” Fisher added, “is a person who travels life’s highway with his headlights always on bright. Not because he wants to reach his destination more quickly, but to enable him to better see a fellow traveler who may be stranded on life’s highway and in need of a helping hand.”
The evening was a total surprise to Graham, who thought he was going to a tribute to his friend, John Henderlite.
Graham recently has taken up running, and his commitment to that mirrors his dedication to his life, career and adopted hometown, Henderlite said.
Shari Graham said she told a professor at Catawba that she might marry Bill some day, even though it took seven years of courting. “I knew he was something special,” she said, also describing her husband as a true Southern gentleman.
The couple are coming up on their 25th anniversary.
“He’s a real Prince Charming in the truest sense of the word,” Shari added.
Bill Graham deflected the night’s praise, saying he and Shari were simply following a template of giving set out by many others in Salisbury. He also gave credit to his office administrator Kathy Hoffner and Shari, because everything he helps with, Graham said, is run through them.
And he couldn’t say enough about his wife’s role in their philanthropy.
“It’s really Shari,” he said.
Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263.

Comments

Comments closed.

Crime

Blotter: April 13

Coronavirus

County switches vaccines for mass vaccination clinic after federal, state guidance

Coronavirus

US recommends ‘pause’ for J&J vaccine over clot reports

Education

Superintendent talks first 100 days, dives into district data

Business

‘It was an answer to a call:’ TenderHearted Home Care celebrates 10 years of providing care at home

News

Political Notebook: Local polls find increasing number of North Carolinians want COVID-19 vaccine

News

Trial begins on challenge to latest NC voter ID law

Local

Burch, Fisher, Marsh honored as 2021 recipients of Elizabeth Duncan Koontz Humanitarian Award

Landis

Landis board talks revenues, budget planning, department updates

College

College baseball: Catawba rolls 7-1 and 24-1

Nation/World

Student fires at officers at Tennessee school, is killed

Nation/World

Police: Minnesota officer meant to draw Taser, not handgun

Crime

Man receives consecutive prison sentences for sex offenses

Education

RSS Board of Education approves Faith Elementary sale

Coronavirus

Rowan Health Department receives 400 Pfizer, 800 Johnson & Johnson vaccines for week

Crime

Blotter: Accident in Food Lion only weekend shooting to produce injuries

Crime

Salisbury man charged with felony drug crimes

Crime

Second person charged in thefts from house near county line

Crime

Police use tear gas to end robbery stand off, arrest suspect

Local

Ask Us: When will Rowan Public Library’s West Branch open?

Nation/World

Prosecution case nears end in ex-cop’s trial in Floyd death

Nation/World

Officer accused of force in stop of Black Army officer fired

Crime

Blotter: Man charged with hitting man with car, fleeing while intoxicated

Local

‘Meet the need’: Rowan County Health Department looks to add to vaccination options