James Charlus Graham passed away April 15, 2023.
He was born in Dunlap Tennessee on July 11, 1932 to Franklin Borders Graham and Minnie Olena Graham. He was raised on his parents’ farm with his brothers. Charlus was the Valedictorian of his high school class, graduating in 1950. He moved to Michigan where he began working with the Chrysler program. Soon after, he made an honorable decision and joined the United States Army.
Charlus attended the Basic Airborne Course and was certified as a qualified parachutist. He became a member of the 11th Airborne Division of the 187th Regimental Combat Team. As part of this unit, he fought behind enemy lines during the Korean War. He was the recipient of the American Spirit Honor medal, the Parachute badge, the National Defense Service medal, and the Good Conduct medal. He was honorably discharged and returned to Michigan. He worked as a drafter and attended the Lawrence Institute of Technology where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in both Electrical and Mechanical Engineering. He was employed by Ford Motor Company, where he worked for 34 years.
During his tenure, Charlus moved his family to both England and Germany. He was well respected by his peers and those who worked under his leadership. While he was successful throughout his career, he received special recognition for heading a multi-phase program to improve vehicle lighting, specifically the use of halogen head lamps. After retiring from Ford Motor Company, he was contracted by the United States Department of Energy to consult on the Hybrid Electric Vehicle Program.
Charlus was a lifelong learner, as he eagerly studied and became an expert in any activity he was participating in. He was an avid sailor and was a member of the United States Power Squadrons. He was a senior member certified in operations training, weather and navigational astronomy courses. He received the educational achievement award and was qualified as an instructor and vessel safety check examiner. He spent countless hours sailing his Jeanneau O’Day 39 Monohull Sailboat, which he proudly named Cherokee, a nod to his heritage. He was a member of the Grosse Pointe Sail Club since 1996. He greatly enjoyed the opportunity to not only participate, but also experience great success in many races. He valued the friendships he made on Lake St. Clair.
Charlus was especially proud of his family, never missing a chance to share any accomplishments his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren had achieved. He loved to tell stories and make people laugh, which he did often. His laugh was contagious. Charlus had a kind and generous heart and was always ready with a helping hand. He could fix anything and enjoyed repairing and maintaining many beautiful old homes. He was also extremely active and passionate about maintaining a healthy lifestyle. He gave the best hugs.
Charlus is survived by his wife of 43 years, Maureen E. Graham; his children, Judy Graham, Jeffrey (Susan) Graham, Jill (Joe) Greenfelder, Jacquelin Richardson, Charles (Kathryn) Esmacher, Ellen (Eric) Larson, and Dana (Larry) Peter; his grandchildren, Courtney (Mo) Sriha, Megan Graham, Lauren (Reid) Czepcinski, Lindsey (Siavash Rahimian) Greenfelder, Connor Greenfelder, Jonathan (Lauren Meress) Shuert, Jacob Esmacher, Elizabeth Esmacher, Emily Esmacher, Hunter James Larson, Payton Larson, Paige Peter, and L.J. Peter; his great-grandchildren, Julianna Shuert, Ariella Shuert, and Jona-than James Shuert; nieces, Karen (Michael) Serilla and Nancy (Johnny) Comito.
Charlus was preceded in death by his parents, Franklin and Minnie Graham; and his brothers, Perry and Billy Joe Graham.
He will be missed deeply by his family who will forever be grateful for his love, guidance, and support. They ask you to lend a hand to someone who needs it in the spirit of Charlus’ generous heart and his willingness to help without expecting anything in return.
Funeral services were held April 21 at A.H. Peters Funeral Home in Grosse Pointe Woods, Michigan.