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Footprints: Selvin Graham - Philanthropist gone to serve elsewhere

Published:Tuesday | February 2, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Selvin Graham

Selvin Graham

Philanthropist gone to serve elsewhere

For years, Selvin Graham, born October 22, 1933, in Mount Joseph, St Mary, sold copies of The Gleaner

and peanuts.

That was in the 1950s, after he had completed Highgate Elementary School, now Highgate All-Age. He started his own grocery shop in 1953 in Fraserwood, and evolved into a popular St Mary-based entrepreneur and community activist.

He expanded the business into a supermarket and wholesale operation, and spent four decades diversifying his portfolio to include construction, hardware, lumber, concrete blocks. and a trucking fleet. His retail and real-estate businesses employed more than 100 staff members, including more than 40 full-time employees.

The businessman 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.

Graham is 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.

For his philanthropic work, Graham was rewarded with a Governor General's Award for St Mary in 1994. Since then, he has received accolades and tributes from organisations such as J. Wray and Nephew, GraceKennedy, Scotiabank, the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce, 4-H Clubs, and Martin's Primary School, which he helped to develop through donations made over a 30-year period.

At age 81, Selvin Graham died on June 3, 2015,

leaving his loving wife, Jocelyn, and seven children.

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