Donald C. Graham - LTA 2018


                                                   Donald C. Graham


I./II.        Name/Key Achievements

Donald C. Graham came to Olney in 1972 as a music teacher in the East Richland School District.In 1976 the District opened the new Middle School and Don became the Director of Bands and Choir.He held this position until his retirement in 2003.


Don is the beloved son of Charles and Helen Graham of Oblong.He graduated from Oblong High School in 1963 and attended Eastern Illinois University in Charleston where he majored in music education.Don graduated in 1967 and enlisted.Our country was involved in the Viet Nam war and yet Don enlisted in the Navy.Lucky for us Don’s assignment was to serve as a musician.He was discharged in 1972 and returned to Eastern Illinois University for his Masters’ Degree in Music Performance.


Don Graham had an illustrious music career at East Richland.He directed the middle school band, had a jazz band, directed the choir, directed the band at ballgames, events, and won contest after contest!Don Grahams’ band of 6th, 7th, and 8th, graders sounded like a high school or perhaps college band. Locally the parents and community loved hearing the band.At state music contest the judges looked forward each year to the time when they could hear Don Graham’s band!They always received a First Superior and his band students who performed solos or duets were always the top performers!They delighted their audience wherever they went.The current band director at the Middle School remembers vividly in 6th grade taking band from Don Graham.He loved it!His goal was to be just like Mr. Graham!Again, lucky for Richland County students, Eric returned to Olney and has been in that position for the past thirteen years!Thanks to Don Graham!


Mr. Graham set high expectations for his students.They worked tirelessly to meet and exceed his expectations.Don was respected by the faculty and was a leader.His involvement, sound advice to the new teacher or administrator, and positive attitude added to the school culture and climate.He retired in 2003 and it took two years of struggle to find what we hoped would be a solution.It took two teachers to fill his shoes and yet both teachers look to Don for advice and certainly want his approval!His work though continues as Richland County is blest with talented young people.They keep on coming each year and the music lives on!


While Don had a huge job at East Richland for over thirty years he was always personally involved in music!He is a highly talented musician himself!He played the trumpet and played in the McElwey Band and the Long Time Comin’ Band on weekends and in the summer.He occasionally served as the Disk Jockey for weddings and dances.In fact, he was the guy everyone wanted but tough to get!In 1993 he became the Director of the Cummins Municipal Band here in Olney, a position he continues to hold.He participates in a community band, plays the trumpet for special occasions.For many years Don directed the pit band at Olney Central College for their musicals.Music in Olney has meant that Don Graham was involved somewhere and somehow!


Don has enjoyed retirement.He continues to help with the family farm in Oblong.This is work he has been doing since he was ten years old and continues to enjoy!He is active with the VFW Guard and plays taps at military funerals.He makes music come alive in the City Park as he directs the Cummins Municipal Band each summer. Don enjoys traveling, hunting and fishing.


Don’s greatest pride though is in his family.Don and his wife Susie who was an outstanding English teacher at East Richland High School have seven children and many grandchildren.Their son Todd is Band Director at Marion High School and their grandson Jack is a member of the Music City Drum Corps in Nashville, Tennessee.


Don Graham developed a music program recognized by the state that was and is First Superior!He helped students believe that musical achievement was possible, work working for and fun!He created performers and we loved the performance!He continues in retirement to work in the community to share his love of music.He is and always be our Music Man!


III./IV.Persons willing to Attend/Additional Support


Don Graham would be proud to attend if he is aware that he is receiving an award.His family would be proud to be there and would love to come and support him.In addition, if the community knows that Don Graham is getting an award – the Cummins Band would be there with bells!If the event was at the Park, they would love to play for the event and share their love of music with all of us!


Respectfully submitted on July 31, 2018

Marilyn Holt



Recommendation by Mary Ann Cummings


Donald Graham - During the school year of 1966-67, Mr. Graham came to East Richland High School as a student teacher from Eastern Illinois University. He loved the community so much, he came back and married an Olney native.

Eventually, he was hired as the high school band director and since his retirement, he has performed as the director for the Cummins Municipal Band. (I hope someone who knows the dates he taught would fill in the blanks.)  

Submited by - Mary Ann Noerenberg (Cummings) (1970)