James A. Graves

James Arnett Graves, “Jim,” 84, passed away peacefully May 10, 2014 at the Thomson-Hood Veterans Center in Wilmore, Ky., surrounded by his loving family. Born Nov. 1, 1929 in Lexington, Jim lived most of his life here and was proud of being a native Lexingtonian.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Lavinia Elliott Graves and David C. Graves Sr.; his sister, Wilyah Graves Naramore; and his brother, David C. Graves. Survivors include his loving wife, Barbara Stokes Graves, whom he would introduce as his “bride of 53 years;” his daughter, Virginia “Gigi” Graves; son, James A. Graves, II; sister-in-law, Mary Beth Graves; and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins. Jim grew up in Bell Court, graduating from Henry Clay High School and UK earning degrees of BA with honors, MA and Ph.D. in political science.

Jim lived a full and versatile life journey. He served 40 years teaching “the most important subject on the planet — political science,” at KY State University (KSU) in Frankfort. At KSU he was also Dean, originator of the Master’s of Public Affairs degree and highly esteemed Frankfort Semester Program and was a prolific grant writer, project director and coordinator. He truly loved his work as a college professor, challenging and mentoring his students. He very proudly spoke of their and his children’s many successes. Jim received a Distinguished Professor award in 1994 and retired in 2005. He was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters at KSU’s 2006 Commencement.  

Serving 30 years in the Air Force Reserves, Jim earned the rank of Colonel and was the state Liaison Officer for several years. He was a dedicated member for 30 years in the Frankfort Rotary Club, serving in several offices, including President. While in Rotary, he served as Team Leader for Rotary’s GSE (Group Study Exchange) trip to South Korea in 1988, the only Frankfort Club member to do so. He was also a Paul Harris Fellow, which advocates the worldwide eradication of polio. Additional passions included UNA-USA, his neighborhood association, local and statewide politics and participation in several other philanthropic and community groups. Jim loved UK football and basketball.

His travels included Russia, China, Japan, S. Korea, Thailand, Brazil and other parts of our planet for the Air Force, as well as for Rotary and pleasure.

Words cannot express the family’s gratitude to the staff of Thomson-Hood for the quality of his care, their kindness and the many friendships he found at his home of the last two years of his life. The family is also highly grateful to Hospice of the Bluegrass for the comfort extended.  

Funeral arrangements include visitation from 5-7 p.m. Wednesday, May 21, and services Thursday, May 22, at 11 a.m. all at Milward-N. Broadway. Burial will follow the service at Lexington Cemetery.

Memorial gifts may be made to the Thomson-Hood Resident Donation Fund specifying the donation is in memoriam to Jim Graves, Hospice of the Bluegrass or to a charity of your choice. www.milwardfuneral.com.

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  • Dr. Graves was one of my all time favorite professors during my time at KSU. He was so very passionate about political science. I looked forward to each class. He made the class interesting, and fostered a a passion for politics that I still possess today. Our community has lost a great educator. God speed Doc.