Donald F. Graham, 2013. Photo: North America Railway Hall of Fame.
One of the most important components of a large company is selling and the subject of this article, Donald F. Graham, was the last Sales Manager of the Canada Division of the NYC Railroad. This was at the culmination of Dons’ career which consisted of 45 years in the railway business.
Don resided in a village called Lawrence Station as a young man, living with his parents in the residential part of the CNR/Wabash railway station that traversed the town. His father, Donald A. Graham, was the station agent. Don’s ﬁrst job was as a section gang worker on the CNR/Wabash line from approximately the Union Road to Ekfrid, when he was about 18 years of age in 1944 or 45.
Don was elevated to an ofﬁce job in 1947 in the ofﬁce of the CNR/Wabash superintendent as a Steno Clerk when he was then 20 years old. His NYC career actually began in May 1948 when he transferred to the NYC Superintendent’s ofﬁce as his secretary, where he remained for ﬁve years.
The NYC Sales Department head ofﬁce was in St. Thomas in 1953, with branch ofﬁces in Windsor, Niagara Falls and Toronto. Don became the Sales Manager of the main branch in St. Thomas. Restructuring of the Sales Department later occurred with Windsor and Niagara Falls branches being shut down. Later on the St. Thomas branch was also shut down and in March 1982 Don was transferred to Montreal. Don maintained his home residence in St. Thomas and also an apartment in Montreal where he was Manager of Canadian Sales.
In 1985, Don went to Detroit as Manager Sales and Marketing, remaining on this job until his retirement June 1, 1988. During these later years Don kept an ofﬁce, desk and ﬁles in the St. Thomas station, even as CNR employees started moving in and taking over, thus making him the last NYC executive in the Canada Southern Railway building.
Don has always been a very quiet and unassuming personality and during his tenure as the District Deputy Grand Master of the St. Thomas District of the Grand Lodge of Canada he was known by several members as “Mr. Cool.” He doesn’t even brag about his Austen-Healey roadster that he purchased in 1956 and still drives in nice weather.
Don and his wife Betty have lived their lives quietly in St. Thomas raising a son and two daughters who are now adults and have left the nest. Don has given a great service to the railways in a prestigious but unheralded position in his long career with CNR/Wabash, and NYC/Penn Central/Conrail.