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1927 John 2023

John Douglas Graham II, MD

November 8, 1927 — July 17, 2023


Dr. John D. Graham II, 95, Indianapolis, IN, resident, decorated WWII U.S. Navy veteran, revered physician, and devoted family man, joined Mary, his beloved wife of 70 years, in eternal life on Monday, July 17, 2023. Deeply loved and admired, this extraordinary man will be profoundly missed.

John was born on November 8,1927, to Helen Louise (née McLaren) and John Douglas Graham I, MD, in Starkweather, North Dakota. Soon thereafter, Devils Lake, ND, became his childhood home. John’s father, a physician, was often called “Doc,” and young John acquired the nickname “Little Doc.” Ever since, he has been affectionately known as “Doc” to his family and friends. At Devils Lake High School Doc ran track, played football and basketball, and proudly played the sousaphone. He graduated in 1945.

Eager to serve, at 17 years of age Doc volunteered to join the U.S. Navy near the end of World War II. He served in the Asiatic Pacific Theater on the cargo ship USS Shaula (AK-118) through August of 1946. Doc survived two harrowing typhoons at sea and was among the first U.S. troops to enter Nagasaki, Japan, after the war. Doc earned six U.S. Navy service and campaign awards including the China Service Medal; the American Campaign Medal; the Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal; the WWII Victory Medal; the Navy Occupation Service Medal; and the Philippine Liberation Medal.

Supported by the G.I. Bill, Doc enrolled at the University of North Dakota (UND) in September 1946. He studied Natural Science, joined Phi Delta Theta fraternity, and lettered in football in 1948 and 1949. Doc played the lead in the “Flickertail Follies” variety show. Always a storyteller and ever entertaining, Doc was the go-to emcee on campus, a role he was frequently called upon to play throughout his life.

While at UND, Doc met his future wife, English major and president of her Delta Gamma sorority, Mary Allen Reick. After graduation, Doc and Mary married on August 27, 1950, in Mary’s hometown of Enderlin, ND. Doc then studied medicine at UND, continued working summers on the Soo Line Railroad laying track, and started a family with Mary. Doc transferred to Duke University School of Medicine in 1953 and earned his Doctor of Medicine in 1955.

Doc and Mary moved to Indianapolis, IN, where Doc completed his residency at Methodist Hospital and began his long and distinguished career in medicine. He practiced as an Internal Medicine Specialist at St. Francis Hospital in Beech Grove, IN, for many years before transitioning to an Emergency Department Physician, also at St. Francis, in 1980. Dr. Graham served as President and Vice President of the Medical Staff at St. Francis and chaired several committees during his career. He was a caring physician, highly regarded by his peers, loved by staff, and remembered fondly by his patients.

St. Francis recognized Dr. Graham with the 1991 Distinguished Physician Award for his outstanding leadership, compassion, and dedication to his patients, colleagues, and the hospital. He retired in 1994.

In recognition for high achievement and a life dedicated to the service of others, in 2000, Doc was awarded the Sioux Award for Distinguished Achievement and Leadership, the highest honor given by the University of North Dakota Alumni Association and Foundation.

An involved and dedicated husband, father, and grandfather, Doc gave unwavering love and support to his family. He showed up for his kids and grandkids, cheering them on at their special occasions, great and small. Doc was an anchoring and loving presence at the center of his close-knit family.

Doc served as a deacon at Irvington Presbyterian Church and was a frequent volunteer. A resident of the Brendonwood neighborhood for over 50 years, Doc was active on the Brendonwood Common Board and also served as its president. A lifelong learner, Doc had many interests including traveling the world, vacationing on Captiva Island, working in his yard and garden, supporting his favorite sports teams, and spending time with Mary, family, and friends.

Doc had a sharp wit and a gift for good-natured banter and repartee. A natural storyteller, he had a knack for finding humor and the makings of an amusing anecdote within everyday experiences, to the delight of his listener. A talented anecdotalist, full of sass and charm, he could light up any room. Our world was so much brighter in his presence.

Doc will be lovingly remembered by his four children and their spouses, J.D. (Lynn) Graham III, MD, Mike (Carla) Graham, Jeannie (John) Summers, and Tom (Kristy) Graham; his ten grandchildren, Erin Carr, Graham Summers, Connor Graham, Katie Young, Kelly Trussell, Thomas Graham, Heather Graham-Mosey, Courtney Graham, Maria Graham, and Michael Graham; his six great-grandchildren, Liam, Parker, Easton, Karbon, John, and Henry; and his sister, Judy Graham Hanlon. Doc was preceded in death by his loving wife, Mary; his parents, Helen and J.D.; his sister, Deidre Winder; and his stepmother, Kathryn Eiland.

Memorial donations may be made to Irvington Presbyterian Church Endowment (55 Johnson Avenue, Indianapolis, IN 46219) and University of North Dakota Alumni Association and Foundation (Gorecki Alumni Center, 3501 University Avenue, Stop 8157, Grand Forks, ND 58202).

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