Texas Right to Life is grieved to share news of the death of our beloved Founder and current President, Dr. Joseph Martin Graham.
Dr. Graham died of natural causes at the age of 88, passing into the loving arms of the Eternal Father this morning after a long life of service and ardent fidelity to the Pro-Life cause. We mourn the loss of our Pro-Life Hero, one of the original Defenders of Life, yet we rejoice that his life of faithful service is now rewarded with Eternal Rest.
Dr. Graham is survived by his wife, Mary Jo. He is also survived by his son, Texas Right to Life Executive Director Jim Graham, and his daughter-in-law, Texas Right to Life Director Elizabeth Graham; his daughter Mary Angela Meyer, her husband Jeff and their two daughters, Clare and Mary Grace; son Joe Graham, Jr., JD; and daughter Therese Andersen, her husband Ric and their children, Michael, Emily, and Catherine.
The entire Texas Right to Life family mourns the loss of our faithful leader and the pioneer who made the incredible and far-reaching work we do a reality four decades ago when Texas Right to Life was formally incorporated in 1973.
Dr. Graham’s passing affects not only the Pro-Life advocates of Texas Right to Life but also many in the academic community locally and across Texas and the entire nation.
He was especially beloved by the University of St. Thomas community.
Dr. Graham, who received his doctorate from Notre Dame, was a tenured professor of Philosophy at the University, where his career spanned more than 40 years. He was beloved by students, staff, and faculty and remained involved in the academic community even beyond his retirement.
President Dr. Robert Ivany shared his condolences on behalf of the entire St. Thomas campus with Texas Right to Life saying:
“Few – if any – professors have made a major contribution to the University of St. Thomas and to the Catholic Church as Dr. Joseph Graham. He taught and inspired his students in the classroom while saving countless lives with his Pro-Life ministry. Joe Graham was a model leader of faith and character whose love for all will live on in the careers of those he educated and through the lives of those he protected. The University community sends its deep condolences to the entire Graham family.”
Dr. Graham was truly a Father of the Pro-Life movement.
His concern for the vulnerable pre-dates any Pro-Life organization in the country because his involvement reached back to before the days of legalized abortion in the United States. He spent his entire life as a staunch advocate for all who could not speak for themselves, including the unborn and the elderly, but also many others. Dr. Graham had a special affection and concern for those whose lives were threatened by the dangerous end-of-life laws in Texas, regardless of their age or circumstances. He was frequently outspoken in their defense.
Dr. Graham’s former students as a whole recall two main facts about their experience as his students. First, his indiscriminate kindness and his sense of humor were hallmarks of every single student with whom he interacted. Second, all of his students recall that, regardless of the class Dr. Graham was teaching, he always found a way to tie in the ethic of the Pro-Life cause.
So fundamental was his Pro-Life conviction to Dr. Graham that he taught every one of his students the importance of valuing all Life based on its fundamental human worth.
During his life, Dr. Graham constantly sought new ways to be a voice for the defenseless — writing, demonstrating, leading, teaching, building – in a word, using all of his talents for the good of others. Dr. Graham’s achievements were vast, including his foresight and vision in founding our grassroots organization, Texas Right to Life. Because of Dr. Graham’s dedication and other-centeredness, Texas Right to Life grew from humble origins into a prestigious state affiliate of National Right to Life, the premier Pro-Life organization of Texas, and the largest Pro-Life group in the South. Today, thanks to Dr. Graham, we are a multi-faceted and successful organization that has played an indispensable role in saving hundreds of thousands of lives in Texas.