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News > Passing of friends > David Allan Graham (1960F) passing

David Allan Graham (1960F) passing

A moving tribute - testimony to the man David Graham was. "Goodbye for now Dad, thank you for everything and for being the best there was ..."

David Kilpin (1960F) let us know that Dave Allan Graham (1960F) died peacefully on the 14th January after a long battle with cancer, at his home in Saltdean, Brighton.  

Dave qualified at UCT BA.LLB followed by a degree in Scotts Law at Dundee University and later qualified as a solicitor in English Law, practicing law in Brighton mainly as a conveyancer.

At school he was a prefect in his post Matric year, loved the choir under Doc Brown and continued his love for choral music , singing in various choirs in Brighton and the church choir in Saltdean with his second wife, Helen, who predeceased him.

Thankfully, his first wife,  Rosemary came to nurse him for the last few months and he died surrounded by his family.

Deeply Moving "Tribute to Dad"

(written and delivered at his  memorial service by daughter, Cindy)

To stand here and see such a full church of people who meant so much to Dad, and vice versa, some of whom have even traveled internationally to be here, is a testament to the man he was, and that makes me very proud to be his daughter.

It's hard to know what to say about someone who meant so much to me in just a few minutes, but even if I don’t capture everything here and now, he will be with me forever, as will the memories, guidance, love, and wisdom he gave to me and also to my children.

You’ve heard the eulogy, which demonstrated the exciting, interesting, international, varied life he led. He disseminated what he learned from all of those facets, as well as his joie de vivre, love of everything a little bit different, culinary experimentation, philosophical approach, and carpe diem attitude to me and Susannah, which we can in turn instill in our own children.

Dad was a great bedtime storyteller, and a lot of the inspiration came from his life in Africa - relaying adventures of using monkey ropes to swing across hidden lakes in Zimbabwe when at school, of having to reverse very quickly when he came face to face with an angry elephant, the love of the African sky, the African rainstorms, the music, and the people. Even though I didn’t visit South Africa until I was in my twenties, he made us feel that we definitely had Africa in our DNA. There are also memories of formal trunk calls to Great Granny in Cape Town, dressing up to go to Heathrow to meet grandparents from Africa, and visits from his sisters from Australia and Portugal – a truly international family.

He was a good girls’ dad – he had to be, as when we were growing up, the only other male in the house was a hamster! He was also a proxy dad to a few boys along the way, some of whom are here or at least represented here. He made us feel special, bought us dresses, and took us out for dinner in a restaurant on our 7th birthday, got down on his knees at a dinner-dance restaurant in Austria to dance with us at our height so we didn’t feel left out. We revisited the Seerosa last year, and he enjoyed telling the current staff of his return after 40 years!

He commented on our outfits, hair, jewelry – even if not always complementary – it showed he noticed! He was a proud dad and made that clear until the very end of his life... throughout school, university, and always interested in every job I had, even listening recently to calls as I worked from his house and giving good advice on recent issues, and was very vocal about those on the other end of the Zoom call!

I called him from every country I visited for work and will miss bringing back the weirdest or most exotic sauce or condiment I could find for him. He always, without fail, would contact me on my return to find out how things had gone.

He was an involved dad – winning the dad’s baking competition at school, teaching me to ride a bike, to swim underwater with my eyes open – even though it resulted in his only pair of lenses floating out in the hotel pool which made driving back from Germany tricky!

Welcoming my friends as teenagers – never judging the lateness of our return, who we brought back, how many people stayed over, as he loved being regarded as the cool dad which, however embarrassing it seemed at the time, actually gave us some kudos. We would host so many parties, and he would help nurse our hangovers with copious cups of tea and bacon sandwiches the next day.

We hosted many family get-togethers too, some of whom are here today, when old and young enjoyed games and the house was filled with laughter. Always welcoming, open-hearted, and with an infectious sense of fun.

He was involved with my friends to the end, supporting recent adventures by printing books of swims, record-breaking marathons, and joining us when he could to celebrate, and he really appreciated the visits that so many of you made in the last few weeks. He was young at heart.

He taught me to always try to do the right thing, be it socially, professionally, or family-related. It was important to Dad, and he said in the last few months that he was determined to do this last bit ‘well’.

He showed stoicism, dignity, and resilience until the last moment and was an inspiration to all those who saw him towards the end. He did many things well, and the fact that he was instructing on complicated dishes to be prepared for him at home, getting to grips with his iPad, listening to podcasts that the children had recommended, playing his guitar, singing loudly with his friends around his bed as they played the keyboard a few days before he died proves he really did do it well until the very end.

He was a fantastic Poppa to Jessica, Noah, and Toby – they remember activity days over the years which were always very well planned (sometimes over-planned!) and executed, including baking days, 3-course dinner parties for Mum and Dad, gardening, vegetable growing, stone cutting. He introduced them to bartending at his 75th birthday party, welcomed them to this church to the choir concerts which meant so much to him, and the friendships he made through choir he held very dear, and he even arranged for Toby to play the drums here once – he was a proud Poppa!

Even until very recently, Dad was reading material and offering advice to Jessica on her dissertation, and throughout her time at university has enjoyed seeing some of his culinary lessons paying off as she shared pictures of her well-prepared dishes!

She and I were lucky enough to go to Austria last year for 5 days with him to retrace steps and places we had gone as children – it created very special memories.

He loved a good and lengthy political discussion with Noah and would ask for his opinion on current events, near and far, and was convinced that he will become an eminent political advisor or correspondent – no pressure!

Toby and Dad would celebrate or commiserate on Rugby scores, be they National, International, Brighton College, or Harlequins related – he was interested in them all and watched all of his grandchildren in fixtures over the years. We recently all watched the Rugby World Cup around his bed!

He was interviewed recently by a new carer who wanted to know about him, and he answered the questions with the following answers – he was religious, which was a comfort to him at the end, he liked French cuisine, he loved music and singing - Elvis was a firm favorite, family was very important to him, and then he said he was a deep thinker and he thought all the time about everything, and I'm so grateful that he maintained the ability to think clearly and deeply until the very end of his life.

Dad had an opinion on everything, and he gave wise advice – but he would always give an initial response, then think about it over a period of hours or days, and then come back with a more in-depth response or opinion. They were the really valuable pieces of advice and guidance!

Dad had an incredible ability to communicate with everyone whoever they were, from whatever walk of life, and however big or small his interaction was with them, he made an impression – so many messages we have received have been about his warmth, welcome, ease with people, and of  course his voice – of which he was very proud!

It seemed as if his life came full circle as the carers he had for the last 3 months of his life in addition to Mum, came from Zimbabwe - some had trained next to the farm he grew up on, they spoke Shona, and reminisced about the country he still called home.

Sibo, one of the carers agreed that I could read out her message of condolence because I think it proves the sort of person he was right up to the end... from someone who only met him a few weeks before his passing…

He will be sadly missed; there was never a dull moment with him, even in pain, he kept us laughing on every visit, he didn’t let the pain spoil his mood, always smiling. The Lord needed him more than we did - he is at peace, pain-free, and singing with the angels in heaven…

One of Dad's favorite sayings was Zulu for go safely and peacefully.

So, as I say goodbye for now Dad, thank you for everything and for being the best there was …

It’s my turn to use it… hamba kahle.

I love you.

Dave is survived by his two daughters Cindy and Susannah and three grandchildren (born to Cindy).

Our sincerest condolences to the family and friends of this special gentleman.

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