Manchester, Tennessee - Reverend James Walter “J.W.” Graham, aka “Jay”, age 88, passed peacefully from this world on the morning of January 5, 2019 at Bailey Manor Assisted Living Facility in Manchester, Tennessee. Born May 18, 1930 in Tracy City, Tennessee, to Homer and Renice Graham, he was the third of eight children. Jay grew up with a love for gospel music and strong Christian values passed down through generations. He loved to sing and play the piano. He had a strong work ethic and in his early adult life worked as a grocer, a coal miner, upholsterer, a shirt factory cutting-room foreman, and furniture builder.
Throughout his life Jay was active in church as a self-taught pianist and choir director. He played piano for his family’s quartet known first as the Spiritualaires and later as the Singing Victors. He also played for the Cumberland Boys Quartet. He attended Motlow Community College and Athens State College in his mid-forties, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in religion. After completing divinity course work at Emory University and Vanderbilt University, he was ordained as a Methodist minister in 1985. He pastored several churches in the Middle Tennessee area during his career including Pleasant Hill, Smith’s Chapel, Harris Chapel, Turkey Creek, Pleasant Grove, Eagleville and Concord United Methodist. He entertained and touched many lives through his musical talent and ministry.
Jay is survived by his son Tony Graham (Debi), grandsons Jared Graham and Chase Graham (Suzie), two great grandchildren, Mary-Michael and Jack Graham, a step-son, Arvis Williams (Robyn) and step-grandchildren Amanda and Nicholas Williams. He is also survived by two sisters, Doris Hughes and Carol Gray, two brothers, Homer Graham, Jr. and Larry Graham. He was “Uncle Jay” to numerous nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Delores Beard Graham, his parents, Renice and Homer Graham, Sr., brother, Robert Craig Graham, two sisters, Anna Lee Harris and Oma Ruth Ledford, and step-grandson, Christopher Williams.
Funeral services will be held Wednesday, January 9, 2019 at Central Funeral Home in Manchester, Tennessee at noon. The service will be officiated by Brother Danny Coffelt. Visitation will be Tuesday, January 8 from 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. and Wednesday, 10:30 a.m – 12:00 noon. Entombment will be at Sequatchie Memorial Gardens, Jasper, Tennessee.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Avalon Hospice, 305 1/2 South Jackson Street, Tullahoma, TN 37388.
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