Robert Joseph Graham, 80, a lifelong resident of Stevens County, passed away Dec. 23, 2011 at his home in Northport, surrounded by his wife of 57 years, Gailene, four sons and three daughters. Death came after a courageous five-month battle with cancer. He was born April 12, 1931, in Spokane. His father, Patrick H. Graham, was born in Ireland and came to Stevens County in 1878. His mother, Grace Hoffman Graham, came to Ferry County in the 1890's. Robert grew up in Boundary, nine miles north of Northport, where his father operated a pole yard. He graduated from Northport High School with the class of 1948.
Following graduation, he attended Washington State College. In 1950, with the outbreak of the Korean War, he enlisted in the Marine Corps and was assigned to a Marine base in Osaka, Japan. Following his military service, Bob returned home to marry his sweetheart, Gailene Pittelko of Northport, in 1954.
In 1968 he and Gailene assumed ownership of Clark's Service Station and Motel from his sister, Margaret Clark. This would be the beginning of an enterprise that would become Northport's leading business. In 1991, they built and opened Gailâ€™s â€śCâ€ť Store and in 1993 they purchased the Waneta Quick Stop at Boundary. In 2000, Bob sold these businesses and retired.
In retirement, Bob continued to be an avid sportsman and outdoorsman. He was active in the City of Northport and enjoyed the Graham lake complex on Deep Lake, a property that has been in the Graham family since 1917 and continues to be enjoyed by his entire family.
Bob and Gailene also enjoyed their winter home in Indio, California, for the past 13 years. While in California, Bob and Gailene were active members of the â€śCougsâ€™ of the Desertâ€ť. There, they continued their life-long support of the Washington State University athletics, especially football. Bob was a longtime season ticket holder and devoted Coug. His children, their spouses and his grandchildren, to date, have earned 11 degrees from WSU. He has a commemorative tile in the WSU Alumni Hall and was a lifetime member of Alumni Association.
A strong and active supporter of Northport, he served on the City Council and was a member of the Northport Volunteer Fire Department. He was a local member of the Lions Club, Northport Chamber of Commerce, a 58-year member of the American Legion, the Northport Historical Society and helped in the renovation of the Northport City Park and boat launch site.
He was a strong supporter of athletics and became a basketball official, where he was active for 38 years. His outstanding ability as an official saw him calling many State tournaments, including championship games. In 1985, he was recognized by the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association for service to youth in the State of Washington.
Bob was preceded in death by his parents, Patrick and Grace Graham; by his brothers, Charles and Patrick, and sisters, Nora Maxfield and Margaret Clark.
He is survived by his children, Robert (Beverly), Northport; Thomas (Christy), Kettle Falls; Rosanna (Paul) Currier, Japan; Mary, Federal Way; Michael (Meshil), Northport; James (Karen), Spokane and Roberta (Paul) Brozik, Colville, and 14 grandchildren and four great- grandchildren.
The Rosary will be held at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 28 in the Pure Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Northport. The Mass of Christian Burial will begin at 10 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 29 in the Northport High School Gymnasium, followed by graveside service and vault interment at the Calvary Cemetery in Colville.
Donations may be made to Hospice of Spokane, 121 S. Arthur St., Spokane, WA 99202 / www.hospiceofspokane.org. Please visit the on-line memorial and sign the guest book at www.danekasfuneralchapel.com.
Danekas Funeral Chapel and Crematory in Colville has been entrusted with the arrangements.