Walter C. Graham passed away in the early morning on Monday, Oct. 6, 2014, at age 98, with his beloved wife of 39 years, Donna or, as he called her, “Precious,” by his side.
Walt was born on Sept. 30, 1916, in Commerce, Texas, to Samuel and Nan Graham. He was a precocious child and was never happy sitting still for very long, a trait he carried through his whole life. Walt’s 40-year career began in 1939 when he was hired to pump gas at a Firestone Store in Huntington Park, Calif. He went on to manage Firestone Tire Stores in territories throughout the Western United States, ultimately selecting Billings as his home.
Walt was an avid outdoorsman and loved the hunting and fishing so plentiful in Montana. He also loved sports and played golf and tennis well into his 80s. Travel was another of his passions, and he and Donna visited many countries around the world. Walt was often the organizer of group trips abroad. He was well-known for his precision-like planning and skill at keeping everyone on schedule. No matter where their travels took them, Walt always said there was no place like Montana, where the sun always seemed to be shining when they arrived back home.
Walt had a strong love for his country and his faith. He served three years in the Army Signal Corps during WWII, attaining the rank of Staff Sgt., and was an active member of his church, volunteering countless hours on special projects. Walt’s faith in God was a tremendous comfort to him as his health declined. Donna would read to him from the Bible every night, and he frequently asked her to read Psalm 23 to him before he went to sleep.
Walt was preceded in death by his mother; father; eldest sister, Thyra; and stepson, Manny.
Walt is survived by his wife, Donna Graham; daughter Linda Sheridan of San Diego; granddaughters Melissa Key of Rangely, Colo., and Amanda Jensen of Austin, Texas; sister Tommie Pearson of San Juan Capistrano, Calif.; nephew Pat (Janis) Pearson of San Juan Capistrano; great-nephews Brian Pearson of Milliken, Colo., and Blake Pearson of Houston.
Walt is also survived by three stepsons: Joel (Linda) Landavazo of Sanford, N.C., Gary Landavazo of Baker City, Ore., Mark (Kelle) Landavazo of Gresham, Ore.; as well as four grandsons; two granddaughters; seven great-grandsons and two great-granddaughters.
Walt’s family would like to thank the incredible nurses and CNAs at Billings Rehab Center and Rocky Mountain Hospice for the kindness and care they gave to Walt.
Visitation will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday, Oct. 13, at Michelotti-Sawyers Mortuary, 1001 Alderson Ave. Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 14, at Faith Evangelical Church, 3145 Sweet Water Drive, Billings. A light luncheon will be served following the service. Interment with military honors will take place at Yellowstone County Veterans Cemetery in Laurel at 1 p.m.