Alexander Funeral Home-East Chapel

2115 Lincoln Ave, Evansville, IN


Wallace Billingsley Graves

February 10, 1922August 18, 2011

Wallace Billingsley Graves, 89, of Evansville, Indiana, passed away peacefully at hospice, Thursday, August 18, 2011.

He was a beloved and generous husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather as well as a community leader. Dr. Graves touched countless lives as a soldier, educator, university president and tireless volunteer.

Wallace Graves was born February 10, 1922 in Ft. Worth, Texas. He completed a bachelor’s degree at the University of Oklahoma and married his childhood sweetheart, Barbara, in 1943. He served in the United States Army during World War II in Europe and spent several months as a prisoner of war. After returning to the United States, he started a family and continued his education at the University of Texas, Austin. After teaching Political Science at Depauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, Graves returned to his native Ft. Worth in 1958 to become a vice president at Texas Wesleyan University. He then moved to Stockton, California as academic vice president at the University of the Pacific in 1965.

Dr. Graves served as the twentieth president of the University of Evansville from 1967-1987. Under his leadership, the university thrived and grew into an international community. In 1971, he lead the foundation of what is known today as the British Campus for the University of Evansville at Harlaxton College in Lincolnshire, England. The University celebrated its fortieth anniversary at Harlaxton this year, and Dr. Graves was honored for his contribution as part of the celebration.

During his career at UE and in his retirement, Dr. Graves was active on many community organizational boards including the Rotary Club International, the American Red Cross, the Evansville Museum of Arts and Sciences, the Evansville Art Council, the Evansville Philharmonic, and the St. Mary’s Foundation. Dr. Graves was the recipient of many awards during his life. He and his wife, Barbara, were honored by Leadership Evansville in 2003 for their many contributions to the city of Evansville.

Wallace Graves was preceded in death by his wife of sixty-five years, Barbara Jeanne Abey in 2009. He is survived his children David Graves of Charlotte, NC; Emily MacDonald (David) of Bury St. Edmund, England; John Graves of Ft. Worth, Texas; Julia Williams of Evansville, IN; grandchildren Andrew Graves (Carrie) of Columbia SC; Alison Graves of Charlotte, NC; Melissa Niedringhaus (Chris) of Wenona, NJ; Matthew Hay of Towson, MD; and Olivia Williams of Evansville, IN; great-grandchildren Henry and Joseph Graves of Columbia, SC.

A memorial service will be held at Neu Chapel on the campus of the University of Evansville on Monday, August, 22nd at 10:30 AM. Memorial contributions may be made to the University of Evansville, the American Red Cross, the American Cancer Society, the St. Mary’s Foundation or the Charlier Hospice.


  • Memorial Service Monday, August 22, 2011


Wallace Billingsley Graves

have a memory or condolence to add?

Anne LaDriere

September 17, 2011

Dear Family of Dr. Graves:

I have just now learned of Dr. Graves passing through President Kazee's podcast from the University of Evansville. I was taken aback to learn that your father's passing occurred just before the weekend that my husband and I stayed at Harlaxton. We were "in residence" on "the gray morning in England" that Dr. Kingsley references in his entry. I agree that Harlaxton College is your father's enduring memorial.

I wanted to let you know that we were visiting Harlaxton for the first time since my husband and I met there 34 years ago. We were celebrating our 30th year of marriage at the place where it all started. I know that our story is a similar one to many others that attended Harlaxton. I wanted to thank you, since I never got to thank Dr. Graves, for having the foresight and courage to establish Harlaxton College. What a profound and lasting effect that has had in my life.

I send my sympathy, and hope and pray that your happy memories will help lighten your sadness very quickly.

Finally, I must also add that I am not surprised that Dr. Graves was, in fact, a Texan!

Ben Riley

August 31, 2011

I am sorry that I could not come to Dr. Graves' funeral. Dr. Graves was a great influence on the University of Evansville. His vision for making UE international in scope was critical as the University developed under his leadership. He changed the University from a college for Evansville into the University of Evansville. I was always amazed at his speaking ability. He had such a sense of presence. I enjoyed working with him.
Ben Riley
Emeritus Professor of Physics

August 24, 2011

I had the privilege of working at UE from 1974-1989 serving both on the faculty and in the administration. I consider Dr. Graves to be one of the most significant mentors in my career. His commitment to UE, concern for students, staff, and faculty, his amazing intellect and quick wit endeared him to all of us who served with him. I extend my deepest sympathy to the Graves family upon the death of your father and your mother. Both set excellent examples of how to lead a university in a changing world.

Roger H. Sublett, President
Union Institute & University
Cincinnati, OH

Brian Daubney

August 22, 2011

Dr Graves welcomed me warm-heartedly on my exchange year in 1970/71 and took me on a personal tour of the Univeristy and Campus. Later his performances in our Savoyard company endeared him to all of us. His ability to combine high scholarship with warm sociability made him an exceptional friend.

August 22, 2011

We are going to miss our dear,always smiling, Wally.We considered him a good friend

Carole and Bob Schaffstein

Jon Klotz

August 21, 2011

I am a '87 UE Grad, actually received my diploma from Dr. Graves. I had a couple chances to interact with him concerning WUEV Business back in my school days working at the station.I found him to be thoughful and helpful on more than one occasion! Later, I ran into him and his wife a few times at Schnucks Grocery, the museum, UE games, and really enjoyed the interesting and intelligent conversations that we shared. What a couple they made. You could see the love they had for each other...and the love they had for UE and its Alumni, and their love of life. I will miss the chance to run into Dr.Graves around town, and I'm sure MANY others will too. Jon Klotz '87

Ginny Grein

August 21, 2011

To the Graves Family,

So sorry to hear of your Dad's (also your Mom's) passing. My Father worked with them to raise money for the University.

He will be missed.

Vickie Poynter

August 21, 2011

Dear Julie and family,
I am so sorry to hear of your father's passing. He was a wonderful person. Please know I am thinking of you during this difficult time.
With deepest sympathy,
Vickie Stanonis Poynter

Martha Fox

August 20, 2011

Dear David, Emily, John, and Julie,

Your father, Dr. Graves, brought Evansville College to university status and international recognition. He and your dear mother were so warm and welcoming, both so involved in our Evansville community as well as the university committee.

Our family was so privileged to have them as friends. We will miss him, as we have missed her, very much.

I was on the faculty of the School of
Nursing for 4 years in the 1970's. All
of us had the highest respect for him and your mother.

I will never forget his Academy Award portrayal of the Mikado, in the Savoyards production in New Harmony.

May he rest in peace, fully reunited with your mother. My prayers go with you.

Martha (Leich) Fox
Allentown, PA

Dr. Gordon Kingsley

August 20, 2011

On a gray morning in England, we of Harlaxton College mourn the passing of our great Founder, Dr. Wallace Graves. Just as in St. Paul's Cathedral, London, there is no monument for its builder, Sir Chrisopher Wren--the legend on his grave simply reads, in Latin, "Reader, if you seek a monument, look around you"--even so, the monument to Dr. Graves in England is magnificent Harlaxton Manor, a blessed part of his legacy. The British and American flags fly at half staff on the front of Harlaxton Manor to mark his passing, from the day of his death through the hour of his memorial service.