Dr. Joseph M. Graham

May 14, 1926July 22, 2014

Dr. Joseph Martin Graham, who taught philosophy for forty-two years at the University of St. Thomas, was a founding father of the Pro-Life movement and current president of Texas Right to Life, and was a loving husband, father, grandfather, and mentor, died peacefully in his sleep at home in Houston on July 22nd at the age of 88.

“Few, if any, professors have made as major contribution to the University of St. Thomas and to the Catholic Church as Dr. Joseph Graham. He taught and inspired his students in the classroom while saving countless lives with his Pro-Life ministry. Joe Graham was a model leader of faith and character whose love for all will live on in the careers of those he educated and through the lives of those he protected,” said Dr. Robert Ivany, President of the University of St Thomas.

Dr. Graham was born in Woodslee, Ontario, Canada, the son of Blanche and Augustine Graham and one of eight children. Dr. Graham graduated First Class Honors from Assumption College of the University of Western Ontario, London, Canada with a B.A. in Philosophy and English Literature in 1947 and a M.A. in Philosophy 1952. The University of Notre Dame awarded him a Doctorate in Philosophy in 1962.

Upon earning his doctorate, Dr. Graham taught at Assumption University from 1959-1965 and Stonehill College from 1965-1970. He taught at the University of St. Thomas in Houston from 1970-2012.

As a professor, Dr. Graham had an indiscriminate kindness and sense of humor, which were hallmarks of every single interaction with each student. Through the years, dozens of students would lean on Dr. Graham for his sage advice and wisdom, and Dr. Graham was more than happy to oblige. Indeed, it would always put a smile on Dr. Graham’s face when he received one of the countless letters from a former student letting him know about the positive influence that he had on their lives.

It was that same kindness, intelligence, and humor that made Dr. Graham a terrific father to his four children and grandfather to five grandchildren. Dr. Graham loved to sing, dance, tell jokes, travel, and attend every sporting event played by his children, and then his grandchildren. As the various trophies attest, Dr. Graham was a tremendous skier, bowler, bridge player, and golfer in his youth. But Dr. Graham put those pursuits aside to focus on raising his family. And his “family” did not just include his children. Many friends of his children and young and old professors alike would love to visit and listen to Dr. Graham talk about the important things, learn about their lives, and help steer them in the right direction. Years later, Dr. Graham would always inquire with a keen, genuine interest in how each and every one was doing.

Recently, Dr. Graham would sit with his beloved Mary Jo and listen to the latest stories of his children and grandchildren, reminisce about the previous good times, and plan for the next. Dr. Graham was fiercely proud of and loved each of his children and grandchildren and let them know that on a constant basis.

Dr. Graham was a founding Board member of the Fellowship for Catholic Scholars and the President of the Houston chapter of Catholics United for the Faith.

Dr. Graham’s true passion was his position as a founding member of Texas Right to Life, serving as the Texas delegate on the board of National Right to Life. Becoming President in 1990, Dr. Graham grew Texas Right to Life from humble origins to the premier Pro-Life organization of Texas and then into the largest Pro-Life group in the South. Today, thanks to Dr. Graham, Texas Right to Life is a multi-faceted organization that has played an indispensable role in saving hundreds of thousands of innocent human lives in Texas and beyond. Last year the college scholarship program was renamed the Dr. Joseph Graham Fellowship for College Pro-Life leaders with 64 recipients active on 21 different campuses across Texas. Dr. Graham is survived by his wife of fifty years, Mary Joan. He is also survived by his son, Jim, and his wife, Elizabeth; daughter, Mary Angela Meyer, her husband, Jeff, and their two daughters, Clare and Mary Grace; son, Joe Graham, Jr.; and his daughter, Therese Andersen, her husband, Ric, and their children, Michael, Emily, and Catherine. We mourn the loss of a faithful husband, loving father and grandfather, passionate teacher, ardent protector of innocent human life, and true friend to many, yet we rejoice in the knowledge that Dr. Joe Graham is now receiving his eternal reward. Dr. Joe Graham, you will be missed by many and never replaced or forgotten. Eternal rest grant unto Dr. Joe Graham O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon him. May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed rest in peace.

Final respects and condolences may be expressed to the Graham family during visitation on Thursday, July 24, 2014 from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm at: Dignity Earthman Hunters Creek Funeral Home 8303 Katy Fwy Houston, TX 77024 713-465-8900

Following visiting hours, all are invited to join in the Rosary at 7:30 pm.

The funeral and Mass of Christian Burial will be held on 2pm, Friday, July 25, 2014 at:

Holy Rosary Catholic Church 3617 Milam Street Houston, TX 77002

In lieu of flowers, please send memorial gifts to the Dr. Joseph Graham Fellowship c/o Texas Right to Life; 9800 Centre Parkway, Suite 200; Houston TX 77006.


  • Mass of Christian Burial Friday, July 25, 2014
  • Visitation Thursday, July 24, 2014
  • Rosary Thursday, July 24, 2014

Dr. Joseph M. Graham

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Donna Santos

August 25, 2014

Thanking his family for sharing him in the need to save the unborn. God's Blessings of peace be with y'all.

Roger&Lucia Fischer

August 9, 2014

Our prayers of consolation go out to all the Graham and Texas Right to Life family.

Sarah Myers

July 29, 2014

Jim, Joe, Mary Angela & Therese,
I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your father. I have many memories of he and your mom and their house on Lindenwood(always filed with kids and Labs). I wish you all peace in the passing of your father and know that I am sending lots of prayers your way.


Sarah Myers


Sarah Myers

Robert Fastiggi

July 28, 2014

May God receive Dr. Grahmam into the light of the heavenly kingdom. I was honored to know him. May God bless him for his dedicated work on behalf of all human life, especially the unborn and the elderly. My prayers go out to his widow, his children, his grandchildren, and all his friends. He was a very good man. May he rest in peace.

Jock & Vicki Collins

July 24, 2014

Our love to all the family and love ones. You had such a great Dad and a wonderful christian man. He was so much fun and I know he will be missed by all. Our love and prayers are with you all.