Obituary: John Graham II / Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics owner

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John "Jack" Graham II, past chairman and CEO of Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics, died Saturday at Arden Courts in Jefferson Hills as a result of head injuries he suffered after falling at the facility where he was being treated for Alzheimer's. He was 75.

Mr. Graham also owned Graham Aviation at the Butler Airport from 1969 to 1980, when he sold the land and the company.

He gave up day-to-day operations at Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics, an aviation maintenance training school at the Allegheny County Airport in West Mifflin, in 2007. Mr. Graham's father, John Graham, founded the company in 1929. Mr. Graham's son, John Graham III, now serves as the company's president and CEO.

"He was an avid flyer and a wonderful father of his three children and a great grandfather as well," said John Graham III of Jefferson Hills. "He was always a generous person, but somewhat reserved.

"He loved his employees and he was always happy, a consummate comedian who was always joking. He had a very good sense of humor."

James Mader, director of Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics, has worked 32 years at the school and said he had great respect and admiration for Mr. Graham as a leader and boss.

"Mr. Graham was the type of leader who led by example," Mr. Mader said. "But he did not micromanage.

"He tried to surround himself with people who would enhance his own abilities, and he let those people use their talents and skills."

Mr. Graham served in the Air Force from 1955 to 1961 and left the service as a captain.

He spent the latter years of his life in Vero Beach, Fla., enjoying outdoor activities, in particular fishing.

"He enjoyed watching the ocean and the beauty of nature," said John Graham III. "He took photos of sunrises, sunsets, birds, waves and the beauty of nature. He really appreciated the ocean and the water."

In addition to his son, Mr. Graham is survived by his wife, Mary Patricia Graham of West Mifflin; daughters, Cary Fletcher of Chesterfield, Mo., and Kristy Merritt of Manchester, Conn.; and eight grandchildren.

Visitation will be from 6 to 8 p.m. today at Jefferson Memorial Funeral Home, Pleasant Hills. A Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Wednesday in St. Thomas A' Becket Church, Jefferson Hills. Burial will be at Jefferson Memorial Park.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Alzheimer's Association, 1100 Liberty Ave. Suite E-201, Pittsburgh 15222 or the American Cancer Society, 320 Bilmar Drive, Pittsburgh 15205.


Tim Grant: tgrant@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1591.


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