Senator Al Graham Obituary
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In Memory of

Senator Al Graham

May 21, 1929 - April 22, 2015
Obituary

Bernard Alasdair (Al) Graham PC., LLD. (1929-2015) – It is with profound sadness that we announce the passing of Senator Al Graham, a proud Nova Scotian and Canadian. Raised in the coal mining communities of Bridgeport, Dominion, and Glace Bay by his mother, Genevieve and Great Uncle, Fr. Charles W. MacDonald, Al possessed a down-to-earth Cape Breton sensibility, and had a gracious ability to connect with people from all walks of life. He saw beauty in everyone and treated all with dignity. He was a teacher, broadcaster, corporate executive and Senator. His professional life was dedicated to community service, and to levelling the...
Bernard Alasdair (Al) Graham PC., LLD. (1929-2015) – It is with profound sadness that we announce the passing of Senator Al Graham, a proud Nova Scotian and Canadian.

Raised in the coal mining communities of Bridgeport, Dominion, and Glace Bay by his mother, Genevieve and Great Uncle, Fr. Charles W. MacDonald, Al possessed a down-to-earth Cape Breton sensibility, and had a gracious ability to connect with people from all walks of life.
He saw beauty in everyone and treated all with dignity.

He was a teacher, broadcaster, corporate executive and Senator. His professional life was dedicated to community service, and to levelling the playing field; economically, socially, and politically. He worked hard to give others a chance in life and believed in the ability of the "little guy" to affect change.

His first love was his family. Al's favourite moments were spent with his children and grandchildren – especially at the Mahoney's Beach family cottage in Antigonish, where he was known to go shirtless from dusk 'til dawn – regularly breaking the sound barrier with his distinctive laugh.

To those closest to him, he was Dad, Grampi, Rock, and Big Al. His love of life, belief in a world of endless possibilities, and his desire to give back remained an inspiration to his children and grandchildren until the end. In his last days, he managed to hold and love us as much as he ever had.

He was proud to have served his country in public office, and had many friends from coast to coast, particularly in Antigonish, Sydney, Halifax and Ottawa.

Al was appointed to the Senate in 1972 by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, was the President of the Liberal Party of Canada from 1975 to 1980, was Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate from 1995 to 1996, and served in Prime Minister Jean Chretien's cabinet as Leader of the Government in the Senate from 1997 to 1999. He was a member of, or led, election observing missions on behalf of The National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, in South and Central America, Africa, Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia. He recorded these observations in the book "Seeds of Freedom; Personal Reflections on the Dawning of Democracy".

After retiring from the Senate, Al enjoyed one of his most meaningful lifetime responsibilities as the first National Patron and Ambassador for L'Arche Canada - an organization committed to inclusive communities for adults with special needs.

In 1993, he received an Honourary Degree from his beloved alma mater, St. Francis Xavier University.

Al is survived by his 10 children – Patricia, Alasdair (Margaret), Jack (Michelle Awad), David (Nancy Regan), Eileen Barrett (George), Bill (Leah), Danny (Lauren McCarville), Mary Hanington (Rob), Jeannie Wamboldt (Jeff) and Anne Marie (Paul Goyetche), 24 loving grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren, and beloved family nanny, Marjorie Martindale. He was predeceased by his loving and devoted wife of 44 years - Jean (MacDonald), his parents - Dr Jack and Genevieve Graham, his two brothers - Charles and Fr. John, as well as his daughters-in-law - Norma Graham and Sheelagh Nolan. He will be deeply missed by his long-time companion, Elizabeth McIninch.

We cannot adequately express our gratitude for the love, tenderness and compassion shown by the staff at Parkland at the Gardens, who treated him like family, as he did them.

Visitation will be held on Saturday, April 25th from 2-4pm, and Sunday, April 26th from 2-4pm at J.A. Snow Funeral Home, 339 Lacewood Dr. in Halifax.
Funeral mass will be held at St. Mary's Basilica on Spring Garden Road in Halifax at 2pm, Monday, April 27th. Reception following the funeral mass at Parkland at the Gardens, The Great Hall, 5732 College Street, Halifax.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to L'Arche Canada (online: www.larchefoundation.ca)

Family burial at St Ninian's Cemetary in Antigonish at a later date.

"To the Graham Family I was very sadden to learn of the passing of your father Al. I had the good fortune to meet him on a few occasions at Mahoney's..." kevin archibald (truro, NS)

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