Local News

Jim Graham Timeline

Posted November 21, 2003

— Here are some significant events in the life of former Agriculture Commissioner Jim Graham, who died Thursday at the age of 82:

April 7, 1921

-- James Allen Graham born in Rowan County.

1938

-- Graduates from Cleveland High School.

1942

-- Graduates from North Carolina State College, majoring in agriculture education. Though blind in left eye from childhood accident, Graham joins ROTC at N.C. State. But he can't serve when he volunteers for World War II because of the injury. Marries Helen Ida Kirk, whom he met at a waterfall at the North Carolina State Fair.

1942-45

-- Teaches vocational education in Iredell County.

1946-52

-- With help from Agriculture Commissioner Kerr Scott, gets job running an Ashe County farm that raised cattle, sheep and burley tobacco. He also works with sheep at North Carolina State Fair. Leaves in 1952 to work as Dixie Classic Fair manager and secretary of North Carolina Hereford Association in Winston-Salem.

1957-64

-- Manages Raleigh Farmers Market.

1964

-- Appointed by Gov. Terry Sanford to fill out term of Commissioner L.Y. Ballantine, who died in office. Running as a Democrat, wins first of nine general elections in November 1964.

1966

-- Major renovations begin at State Fairgrounds in Raleigh.

1968

-- Agriculture Department's Soil Testing Division begins using computers to generate reports, speeding up "prescriptions" for farmers to improve crop production.

1969

-- State Fair extended from six days to nine days. Tenth day added in 1986.

1976

-- Gives trademark "donkey bray" at Jimmy Carter presidential campaign stop in Winston-Salem, gets national attention. Follows through with promise to kiss donkey's behind after GOP-dominated Wilkes County goes Democratic in November election. Agriculture marketing specialist hired in North Carolina's first international office in West Germany. Jim Graham Building opens at fairgrounds.

1978

-- Persuades General Assembly to purchase additional 144 acres for fairground expansion.

1979

-- Graham pumps first gallon of corn-based gasohol in North Carolina at Raleigh filling station.

1985

-- "Goodness Grows in North Carolina" marketing program launched promoting North Carolina agricultural products. Hundreds of growers and companies now participate.

1987

-- Celebrates eradication of boll weevil, the bane of cotton farmers, in a ceremony in Raleigh. Intensive monitoring program helps expansion of cotton crop during the 1990s.

1994

-- Mountain State Fair begins in Asheville.

1998

-- Food and Drug Protection Division hires first bilingual pesticide specialist to improve protections for Latino workers. Writes autobiography.

1999

-- Announces he won't seek 10th term so he can spend time with wife, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. Helen Graham dies Dec. 3. A new waterfall at the fairgrounds, replacing the one torn down in 1967, is dedicated in her honor.

2000

-- Meg Scott Phipps, granddaughter of Kerr Scott, elected to succeed Graham. Portions of U.S. 70 in Rowan and Iredell counties named Jim Graham Highway.

2002

-- Writes "Jim Graham's Farm Family Cookbook for City Folks."

Nov. 20, 2003

-- Graham dies at Raleigh convalescent center.

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