James (Jim) Lee Graham, September 8, 1932 - September 23, 2019. Jim
Graham died peacefully in Orillia, Ontario at the age of 87. He is lovingly
remembered by his daughters Karen Graham and Laurie Graham, son-in-law
Dave Chato, grandchildren Michael and Connor Chato, and son Dave Graham.
He was predeceased by his wife Sheila Jean (nee Sharpe), and his brother,
John Graham, and is survived by his brothers Sandy Graham, and George
Born in North Vancouver and raised on Saltspring Island, British Columbia, Jim
joined the Bank of Montreal soon after high school and began his career in
Nelson, BC. His next move took him to Merritt, BC where he met “the love of
his life”, Sheila Sharpe. Marrying in 1955, they began the adventure of raising
three children. They moved frequently, and even spent four years overseas in
London, England, before permanently establishing themselves in Orillia, Ontario in 1972.
By the 1980’s, Jim had gained a reputation as a fair and community-minded bank manager and was asked to
come on board as Managing partner when a group of local entrepreneurs launched the Huronia Trust
Company. It was a successful venture, expanding to three local branches, and ultimately merging with
Manulife Bank of Canada in the early 90’s. Jim then became the CEO of Manulife Bank and, after it was
purchased by Laurentian Bank of Canada, continued to sit on their board after retirement.
Although a banker by profession, Jim always said that he worked with people, not numbers. And it was his
sincere connection with people both professionally and personally that is his true legacy. Throughout his
career, he supported small ideas and watched them grow into successful businesses. He was also a strong
believer in giving back to the community through service and humanitarian action. To name a few of his
volunteer commitments, Jim was on the boards of directors for the Orillia and District Chamber of Commerce,
the Orillia Downtown Business Association, Rotary Club, Laurentian Bank, Georgian College, Helping Hands,
and Champlain Seniors. In 1992 he was honoured as Orillia’s Citizen of the Year in recognition of his
dedication to the city.
Everyone who knew Jim would agree that he was a kind, gentle person who showed respect and generosity to
all. He had an unerring sense of decency and integrity, believing in the Golden rule: “Do unto others as you
would have them do unto you”. He never had an unkind word to say about anyone.
Jim shared fifty-eight happy years of marriage with Sheila. Together, they travelled to many parts of the world,
became enthusiastic birders, and were renowned hosts to some very memorable parties. Sadly widowed in
2013, Jim was fortunate in his last five years to find loving companionship with an old friend, Wendy Bradshaw.
They often crossed the country to go on travel adventures together.
His last year of life was spent among the caring people of Champlain Manor. We are thankful for their
compassion and warmth; they looked after him well, and with their help, he was able to remain positive in his
final months. We are also humbled by Jim’s many close friends in Orillia who have been such a solid support
for him this past year with their frequent cheerful visits and genuine offers of help. A celebration of Jim’s life
will be held at Mundell Funeral Home on Saturday, October 5th, 2019 from 2 - 4 p.m. with words of remembrance at 2:15 p.m. In lieu of flowers, donations will be gratefully accepted at Jim’s three favourite local charities: Project Umbrella Burma, Helping Hands, or Couchiching Conservancy. Messages of condolence are welcomed at www.mundellfuneralhome.com
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