Graham had a long and distinguished career in information technology dating back to 1984 when he joined the software company Ashton-Tate as a manager of technical support.
By the time he joined Fordham in August 2011 as an IT risk analyst, Graham had amassed experience in the technology, publishing, and pharmaceutical industries, and brought with him expertise in project implementation and management, systems infrastructure development, and data center operations.
Shannon Ortiz, senior director of IT Security and Assurance, said that all of this was critically important for Graham’s job, which was ensuring that the University continues to function even in the event of a natural disaster or a cyber attack.
But what he said he’d remember most about Graham was his laugh.
“Because of his infectious laugh and his smile, and this general charisma that he had, he really just made people feel comfortable,” he said.
Ortiz said that because he had nearly 40 years of experience in the field, Graham had become a mentor for younger staff members. His demeanor also made him the perfect point person for the “lessons learned” conversations that are critical to the IT field.
“Whenever an incident or disaster would happen, he would be the point person because he was very non-judgmental, very unbiased, and he was able to listen,” he said.
“He was able to get to the facts without making anybody feel put upon if they made a mistake.”
Graham brought an upbeat approach to personal life as well. M. Renee Graham, his wife of 37 years, said her husband was a Dallas Cowboys fan and an avid jazz fan (the couple had tickets to the upcoming Hampton jazz festival in Hampton, Virginia. She said he always lightened the mood of those around him.
“If he entered a room, whether he knew people or didn’t know them, he would always come in with something like, ‘Okay, the party can start now I’m here,’” she said.
“Sometimes, I have to be honest with you, I didn’t always appreciate it, because sometimes it was the wrong time for that,” she said laughing.
Graham was born to the late Calvin and Juanita Graham in Lumberton, North Carolina, in 1959. His family moved from North Carolina to Connecticut in the 1950s, and from age 6 on, Calvin grew up in Stamford, Connecticut. He graduated from West Hill High School in 1976 and eventually found work in the accounting department of the Greenwich-based company Control Data. In 1980, Renee, a native of Greenwich, landed a secretary position there as well.
“My first day of work, I was being taken around by my boss to meet everyone. Later on, he said to me, ‘Oh my gosh, when you came into my cubicle, I thought ‘There’s that cheerleader!’ I had been a Greenwich High School cheerleader, so obviously he had seen me cheering at either West Hill or Stamford High and remembered me,” she said.
The couple were married in 1987 and had two sons, Sam and Calvin Graham. And although Calvin never earned a college degree, he found success in information technology, in part because of his natural ability to form human connections.
“One of our friends, who was a former colleague of his, spoke at his funeral and said that he was always able to meet people, make friends, and then keep those connections,” she said.
“He did have some really good relationships with his workmates.”
Although the couple lived in Trumbull, Calvin maintained a connection to Stamford. Since 2016, he was a member of the Freemasons in Stamford, where he was preparing to be installed as the Worshipful Grand Master.
“He once said to me he felt that it was making him a better person. Doing service, giving back, doing fundraising for things—that’s the part of it that he liked. It was helping him to feel that he had a purpose,” she said.
In addition to being a wonderful husband and father, he was, she said the ultimate caretaker.
“Caring for me. Caring for the kids. Caring for the house,” she said.“He enjoyed being needed.”
In addition to his wife and sons, Graham is survived by his son Calvin’s spouse Maig Smith, his sisters Sandra Kittrell and Acquanetta Grant, Acquanetta’s husband Emanuel, and many nieces and nephews.
Funeral services were held on May 18 at Mount Aery Baptist Church in Bridgeport. Memorial contributions may be made to the American Heart Association or to St. John’s Lodge #14, 273 Greenwich Ave., Stamford, CT 06902.