William Edward “Eddie” Graham, a well-known educator in the Alleghany Highlands since coming to the area in 1971, has been named the 2019 recipient of the prestigious Medallion of Merit Award by the Dabney S. Lancaster Community College’s Local Board. Graham is starting his 50th year in education.
Graham is a native of Clay County, West Virginia, and is a 1966 graduate of Clay County High School. He is the son of the late Janet and Bill Graham of Indore, WV. His wife Brenda (Shaffer) also is a native of Clay County and is a 1970 graduate of Clay County High School. She is the daughter of Norma Shaffer and the late Euhl Shaffer of Inverness, Florida.
The Medallion of Merit was established in 1979 to recognize individuals or organizations who have made a significant contribution to the betterment of life to the world, nation, Commonwealth, region, or DSLCC’s service area. The DSLCC Local Board voted to reinstitute the Medallion of Merit this year; the last time it was awarded was in 2012.
The award was presented to Graham during a ceremony August 13 on the DSLCC Clifton Forge campus by DSLCC President Dr. John Rainone. Dr. Rainone noted that in the submitted nomination, it was pointed out that Graham has “dedicated his life and 48 of his 49 years in education to the children of the Alleghany Highlands.” During his career, and even after retiring as superintendent of the Covington school system and then accepting the position as director of the Jackson River Governor’s School, Graham has continued to help, encourage, develop and motivate the area’s young people “to be the best that they can be.”
Also in attendance were several previous recipients of the Medallion award: George and Helen Kostel, Sara Lu Snyder, G. Otis Mead, Helen Jean Fitzgerald, William T. Wilson and Charlotte Martin.
In his acceptance remarks, Graham said he felt that being selected for the award was quite an honor. “To be recognized by a community you love, colleagues and friends you love so much, and family, who are the reason I’m standing here today, is a wonderful experience.” He said that he was fortunate to have had a career in a field that he truly loves.
For the last ten years Graham has served as director of the Jackson River Governor’s School, housed at DSLCC. Prior to that, he was the Superintendent of Covington City Public Schools, and was director and assistant director at the Jackson River Technical Center. Before moving to JRTC, he taught drafting, electricity and woodworking at Clifton Forge High School for ten years.
A native of West Virginia, he taught first grade in Clay County, WV, for a year and was also employed at Union Carbide Corporation before starting his career in education. He attended West Virginia Tech, University of Virginia and Virginia Tech.
Graham has served on a number of local agencies and organizations: the Alleghany Highlands Chamber of Commerce, as president and as a member of the Board of Directors; Greater Alleghany United Fund Board of Directors; Alleghany Highlands Community Services Board of Directors; Alleghany Highlands YMCA Board of Directors; DSLCC Local Board; DSLCC Educational Foundation Board of Directors; Alleghany Highlands Housing Alliance Board of Directors; and the Clifton Forge Redevelopment & Housing Authority.
He and his wife, Brenda, who is a Diabetes Educator at LewisGale Hospital Alleghany, have two daughters, Rebecca Smith, a chemical engineer at Quali-Chem, Inc., and Emily Mays, a veterinarian who owns and operates the Highlands Veterinary Clinic. The Grahams are the grandparents of four grandchildren, all students: Bailee Leitch, Virginia Tech; Bryce Leitch, Clifton Middle School; Baron Leitch, Alleghany High School; and Dallas Kimberlin, JRTC pre-school.
Other past recipients of the Medallion of Merit Award have included Senator Buzz Emick of Fincastle, Elizabeth Scott of Clifton Forge, Mr. & Mrs. Charles Stumpp of Covington, Mrs. Christine Herter Kendall of Bath County, the City of Lexington, Norman C. Scott of Clifton Forge, Dr. Mary A. Thayer of Botetourt County, Lily M. Albert of Covington, Dr. James C. Bradford of Buena Vista, Wilford P. Ramsey of Buena Vista, Adelaide (Bari) Ballou of Clifton Forge, Bernice Ford of Clifton Forge, G.C. Thompson, Jr. of Botetourt County, Hugh S. Gwin of Bath County, Mr. DeWitt S. Worrell of Lexington (posthumously), George R. Goode, Sr. of Clifton Forge, Kathryn C. Buhrman of Botetourt County, Harry A. Walton, Jr. of Alleghany County, Nadine Paxton Rankin of Botetourt County, Donnie Wheatley of Alleghany County, Ruth Middleton of Covington, Jack A. Hammond of Alleghany County, Harold F. Kidd of Buena Vista, Betty Carpenter of Covington, Linda Law Krantz of Rockbridge County, Joseph H. Carpenter, III of Alleghany County, and Irma Blake Thompson of Buena Vista.