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Footprints: Selvin Graham - A humble and selfless philanthropist

Published:Tuesday | June 23, 2015 | 6:00 AM
Selvin Graham

Popular St Mary-based entrepreneur and community activist Selvin Graham, who died on June 3 at age 81, entered the world of commerce as a teenager in the early 1950s, selling peanuts and copies of The Gleaner before rising to become one of the parish's most successful and respected businessmen.

Graham, who is survived by his loving wife, Jocelyn, and seven children, was born on October 22, 1933, in the district of Mount Joseph, near Annotto Bay.

He attended Highgate Elementary (now All-Age) School until age 16 when he found work as a gardener.

After developing a talent for sales, in 1953, the quick-witted tradesman launched a small grocery shop in the district of Fraserwood.

Graham expanded the business into a supermarket and wholesale operation and spent the next four decades diversifying his portfolio to include construction, hardware, lumber, cement blocks, and a trucking fleet.

Moreover, for many years, these ventures helped boost the region's economy as Graham's retail and real estate businesses employed more than 100 members of staff, including more than 40 full-time employees.

Graham will be remembered as a humble and selfless philanthropist who made an invaluable contribution to the life and development of his community by constructing houses for the homeless and helping many other people build homes.

He was an active member of the St Cyprian's Anglican Church in Highgate and frequently made voluntary donations to local schools, youth clubs, police organisations, and the health department.

In 1994, his kindness and concern for the elderly and destitute was rewarded with a Governor General's Award for St Mary, and over the next 20 years, he received accolades and tributes from organisations such as J. Wray and Nephew, GraceKennedy, Scotiabank, the Chamber of Commerce, 4-H Clubs, and Martin's Primary School, which he helped to develop through donations made over a 30-year period.

Speaking in 2003 about morals, ethics, and the secret to his success in business, Graham told The Gleaner: "You must work hard, build your community and your people, and express more love at all times."

Have you recently lost a loved one whose footprints you want documented in this feature? Please send tributes, eulogies and photographs to Footprints@gleanerjm.com