Graham, Robert Alton (Fischer) (1917-2007)

Robert A. Graham, 89, a resident of Good Samaritan Heritage Apartments and long-time resident of Warren, MN died on Tuesday, November 20, 2007 surrounded by loving family members.

Born in Bismarck, ND on December 3, 1917 to Josiah and Mabel (Ruthrauff) Fischer, he was placed in a foster home and subsequently adopted by O.J. (Pete) and Ella Graham of Cummings, ND. The family later moved to Hillsboro where he graduated from high school in 1935. He enrolled in UND and graduated with a B.A. degree in English in 1940. On September 4, 1939, he married his high school sweetheart, Gwendolyn Olive Sorum. Robert’s first job after college was as a clerk for REA now Minnkota Power. He was offered and accepted a school principal’s position at Galesburg, ND in the fall of 1940, but returned to Minnkota when a supervisory position opened up. His abilities earned him recognition in the growing rural electric business and he accepted the position as Manager of PKM. Electric Cooperative on May 1, 1945. Headquartered in Warren, PKM Electric Co-op served rural customers throughout the MN counties of Polk, Kittson, and Marshall. Robert was very instrumental in the passage of key REA legislation at the state, regional, and national levels. He successfully lobbied for measures that enabled the early “electrification of the American farm” to progress, and was recognized by his peers and legislators for those efforts.

Robert’s leadership also included several terms on the Warren City Council and School Board. His successful efforts in securing government funding for city housing and school building projects earned him a coveted “Builder of Warren” award from a grateful community. He retired from PKM Electric Cooperative on May 1, 1981.

Robert and his wife, Gwen resided in Warren where they raised 5 children. They spent many happy winters in Mesa, AZ until Gwen’s death in 2000. He later moved to the Heritage Apartments in East Grand Forks where he became reacquainted with Leona Holt, close friend of his wife, Gwen and the widow of his long-time friend, Kenny Holt. Together they forged their loving relationship, sharing love, laughter, families, golf games, and over 65 years of happy memories.

Many PKM customers fondly remember Robert as the “Sabaskong Angler,” the inept, clumsy, oafish host of his Ontario, Lake of the Woods, island fishing cabin. The Angler wrote hilarious monthly columns in the PKM News, recounting the mishaps and adventures of his nicknamed friends and family members who shared laughs and memories with him at the Sabaskong Bay cabin. Mr. Graham was actually an accomplished high school athlete and skilled golfer who won the Warren Country Club Championship. He also was fond of sending thought-provoking letters to the editor at the Grand Forks Herald and his alma mater, UND.

Mr. Graham was preceded in death by his parents; his wife, Gwendolyn; and a daughter, Nancy (Terry) Black.

He is survived by sons James and Charles (Lovie), of Warren, Larry (Shawna) of Davenport, IA; a daughter, Betty of Warren; Leona Holt of East Grand Forks; 8 grandchildren; and 13 great and step-great grandchildren.

In keeping with his wishes, there will be no public services. The family is planning a private celebration of his life at a later date.

DuBore Funeral Home

[Interred Greenwood cemetery]

Transcribed by: Cheryl Srnsky