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Markey-Dermody Funeral Home

1774 King Street East, Hamilton, ON

OBITUARY

William M. Graham

May 30, 1942December 26, 2019

Peacefully, passed away on Thursday December 26th with family by his side. Bill is survived by his children Paul Graham (Jennifer Graham); Annie Coulson (Matt Coulson); and was adored Bapa to Alex, Will & Sylvia and Grandpa to Mason.

He is also survived by his sister Bonnie Kennedy, nephew Michael Kennedy and niece Catherine Kennedy. Bill was predeceased by Beryl Graham and Sharon Andrews and played a special role in the lives of Geoff & Ginny Andrews. Bill was born in Chatham, ON. From the beginning, Bill’s life was full of music. After attending Lord Byng Secondary in Vancouver BC, Bill received numerous scholarships and attended the Banff School of Fine Arts, The Royal Conservatory of Music and The University of Toronto. Throughout the 60’s, Bill was very active in the Canadian Folk & Classical music scene which included performances on CBC Radio and numerous TV music specials. He was also a member of The Canadian Opera Company. Afterwards, Bill attended the University of Toronto and graduated top of his class with a Bachelor of Music Degree in Performance and a Bachelor of Education.

In 1974, Bill turned his attention to teaching where he became Head of Music at East York Collegiate. Throughout his 30-year career, Bill directed 12 full-scale musicals. It was through these musicals that inspired Bill to create the Music Theatre course for East York Collegiate – arguably one of his proudest achievements. Bill was also conductor for the East York Collegiate Choir and was the founding conductor of the East York Singers in 1985. Throughout the years, Bill put on numerous concerts including conducting Handel’s Messiah with a choir of 140 singers. Bill had a profound impact on numerous students and influenced many to follow their dreams. In retirement, Bill continued to be involved in music conducting The William Graham Singers and performing in the Retro Ramblers Quartet. A long-time member of Ashbridge’s Bay Yacht Club, Bill’s other passion was sailing. He spent many summers cruising around Lake Ontario and the Thousand Islands with friends and family.

Funeral Service will be held at St. Cuthbert’s Anglican Church, 1399 Bayview Avenue, Toronto, Ontario on Monday, December 30, 2019 at 11 am. In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate donations to the The Minstrel Foundation (www.minstrelfoundation.org). Condolences and memories may be forwarded through www.markeydermody.com.

Services

  • Funeral Service Monday, December 30, 2019

Memories

William M. Graham

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Jackie Psarianos

January 2, 2020

Please accept our heartfelt condolences for the passing of a wonderful person, talented, and inspirational teacher.

Both my husband and I, were students of Bill, and must attest that during our years at E.Y.C.I., the dynamic Music Department was our hub - from the various music festivals, road trip to Washington, to late, late nights rehearsing for Li'l Abner, the memories are many and we look upon them with great fondness.

Sing with the Angels Mr. Graham, you will be missed.
Peter and Jackie Psarianos

Susan (Martin) Kutertan

January 2, 2020

Bill Graham was such a dedicated, compassionate and knowledgeable teacher! He, along with Diane Cross, took my love of music seriously at EYCI and supported so many of us in our musical goals, dreams and ambitions. What a life-changing inspiration you have been to so many!! ❤️
My sincere condolences to his family and friends. A life well and richly lived. Many thanks, Mr. Graham.

Steven Kokkas

January 1, 2020

Sir,
Huge impact on so many of us. The flow of Compassion and respect was endless.

Sky Masterson

Clarice Kloezeman Thornton

January 1, 2020

I met Bill after he’d retired and was supply teaching at LEACOCK, where he met Sharon Andrews. At first we wondered what they could possibly have in common, but once you spent some time with them it was easy to see. They complemented each other, shared musical passions, sailed, and devoted themselves to young people. Bill was starting up the William Graham Singers and had already recruited a few teachers. I joined and my life changed. Bill was so kind, making a newbie feel welcome and valued. He encouraged in me a new ability and always had faith that I would rise to the occasion. I was in awe of how he would manage, like a magician, to take our voices and Transform them into beautiful music. He gave me a gift: The joy of making music and the confidence to transition through my own retirement. I will miss him.

Melani Miguel

December 31, 2019

I'm so saddened to hear of Mr. Graham's passing. My deepest sympathies and condolences to his family and loved ones. My thoughts and prayers are with you all during this difficult time.

He may be gone but he will never be forgotten!

Mr. Graham was My favourite teacher throughout high school. I cherish all the wonderful memories I have being a part of his Vocal Music classes, singing with the East York Singers (especially when we performed Handel's Messiah as an inter-school mass choir with the symphony orchestra at Roy Thompson Hall), our field trips to Sheldon Valley, the many musicals he directed, April Artistry, and the list goes on and on. When I recorded my first album, I wrote a dedication to Mr. Graham for inspiring me to follow my passion, music. I will never forget him and all the things he has taught me. To this day I use all the vocal techniques and vocal exercises he taught me.

Now he's directing a choir of angels in heaven!

May His Musical Soul Rest in Peace. 🙏🏾

Melani Miguel
E.Y.C.I. Class of '92

Julia Cardone

December 31, 2019

I had the opportunity to teach at East York Collegiate for half a year in 1980 and from 1989 to 1999. It was a really wonderful school and Bill's musicals were a major part of making the school a great place to work. When there was a musical, many of the staff took an active part in working on the show from building sets, to designing costumes , to selling tickets. I had the opportunity to see at least 5 shows and they were always so professional and the student talent wonderful to see.
Bill was the driving force and made these musicals happen. So many of the students loved Bill and enjoyed working with him on those shows.
I did not know Bill well personally, but I know that he made a difference to many students at EYCI and encouraged and helped develop the skills and talents in many students.

ANNE HOLLOWAY

December 30, 2019

I first met "our fearless leader" when I joined the William Graham Singers about 15 years ago. Despite my woeful lack of experience, he was welcoming and I spent the next 12 or so years learning how to be a chorister under his skilful and patient tutelage. Tuesday nights at Danforth Mennonite with Bill and Sharon and then with Inna were sacrosanct: the highlight of my week. The songs, the fellowship, the laughs will always be treasured.
When introducing a new piece, Bill would invite us to "just have a stumble-through"-- a fitting metaphor for coping with all of life's challenges. When we buried our noses in our score and ignored his conducting he'd gently say, "Allow me to introduce myself. I am your conductor." He truly was our leader. Music was his heart and soul -- and then he handed all three to us. Thank you, Bill.

kirk andrews

December 30, 2019

Mr Graham had a profound effect on my family and myself as he taught Sharon Lee Marie how to excell in her musical pursuit as a Choral Leader and as an Accompianist for his Choral groups after his retirement from EYCI. His love of sailing transferred to Geoffrey who bought his first Boat last year. My last encounter with Bill would be as he walked "Ricky" his dog on Kew Boardwalk as I recognized dog before I realized it was bill out for his exercise. RIP

Michelle Robeson

December 30, 2019

I can barely look back at my time as a student at EYCI, and not see Mr. Graham in those memories. From ANYTHING GOES, to MAN OF LA MANCHA, and all the way to Japan. Mr. Graham was a passionate, driving force behind some of the most memorable experiences of my life.

Learning of Mr. Graham’s passing has left me feeling deeply saddened, knowing how many people will miss the joy he delivered with his profound love of music. But, I truly believe the energy we create by raising our voices in song, rings out well after the sound has faded. Mr. Graham inspired so many people to use their voice for song, joining his own, bonding us forever in an infinite chorus.

My deepest condolences to his family and closest friends. He will be missed.

- Michelle Robeson

Karen Dunk-Green

December 30, 2019

Some of my best memories involve Bill: like singing (after learning the music via Bill’s tireless and gentle teaching) in that 140-voice Messiah, for example. That introduced me to years of singing Messiahs around Toronto; what a lifelong gift. I recall clearly the awkward dynamic of interviewing him to be the (2nd) conductor of the East York Community Choir; the student now screening the teacher (as if there was any question about him being a wonderful choice). Some of my most embarrassing moments involve him too; silly gaffs I made as a student in his music classes at EYCI. Clearly he is a fixture in my mind. Thank you Bill for all that you were and are.

FROM THE FAMILY