Tillman L. 'Tim' Graham

Nov 21, 2012 Staff

Tillman L. "Tim" Graham, the father of Dennis Graham of Riverton, died Friday, Nov. 16, 2012, at Tenderheart Assisted Living in Evanston where he had lived since April. He was 83 years old.

Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Friday, Nov. 23, at the Basin Baptist Church with burial at the Basin Mountain View Cemetery. A luncheon will follow at the Baptist Church.

Tillman Leon "Tim" Graham was born June 25, 1929, at his aunt's home near Custer's Battlefield in Montana, the son of Peter Warren Graham and Letha Fyrn Sands Graham. Much of his childhood was spent in the Bitterroot Valley of Montana.

Mr. Graham married Pearl Deveraux of Hyattville on March 12, 1950, in Hyattville. The couple was married for 43 years until Mrs. Deveraux's death in 1993. They settled and raised their family in south Big Horn County. They were the proud parents of five children: Tim, Patty, Barbara, Dennis and Jody.

Mr. Graham worked at various jobs in Wyoming and Montana until March 1952 when John Snyder took a leap of faith and hired him to operate a Caterpillar for the Soil Conservation Service. Mr. Graham always considered this his break in life and the change of course for his family. He continued to work for the SCS until October 1958 when he bought his first Caterpillar, "Old Yeller," with the help of Bert Olsen of Otto. From that point on he successfully owned and operated T.L. Graham and Sons Earthmoving. He held John Snyder and Bert Olsen in the highest esteem for their belief in him and his ability to succeed.

As an individual, Mr. Graham contributed to the economy of Big Horn County with the development of thousands of acres of agricultural land and irrigation projects. He leveled the land and built the ditches and reservoirs to supply the agricultural water. Among his projects was preparing the sites for the Basin Recreation Park and ball fields. He was a master with his machinery and was respected for his business ethics. He retired from dirtmoving in 1994 and spent his winters in Yuma, Ariz., and his summers in Basin.

His family said he enjoyed hunting, fishing, ATVs and snowmobiles, but his greatest passion was traveling "to see this great country." He inherited the love of music from his mother and was an accomplished fiddler. He was a member of the Wyoming Fiddlers Association and was invited to play for George H.W. Bush. The performance was recorded for the Smithsonian. He also played the piano, guitar, harmonica and spoons all "by ear" as he could not read music. He could tell a great story and argue politics with the best. He became an avid domino player and would challenge anyone to a game.

His family said he was especially proud not only of his business but of his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He took great satisfaction in their educations and success. His family said they will miss his laughter and the clink of his dominoes.

He is survived by his children, Tim and Sherry Graham of Basin, Patty and Bill Comeau of Evanston, Barbara and Robert Raynor of San Tan Valley, Ariz., Dennis and Debbie Graham of Riverton, and Jody Graham and Anne Thompson of Cave Creek, Ariz.; brother Charles Graham of Washington; sister Birdie Job of Frenchtown, Mont.; 13 grandchildren; 17 great-grandchildren; and companion of 18 years, Mary Ransom and her family.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Pearl; parents; and brother Boyd.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Eagles Memorial Fund in care of Security State Bank in Basin.

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