In Memoriam: Kenneth D. Graham, MD

Dr. Kenneth D. Graham passed away peacefully on April 25, 2020, in his Gig Harbor home, with his wife Jeannie and their dog Charlie at his side.

Ken, 89, had been recently diagnosed with terminal stomach cancer. Born in Aberdeen on May 20, 1930, he graduated from the University of Washington in 1952 and completed his medical training at George Washington University School of Medicine in 1956. Ken completed his internship at San Joaquin General Hospital, CA., where he met and married his first wife, Beverly, in 1957.

Having enrolled in ROTC in High School, Ken was commissioned as a Navy lieutenant in the Korean War and spent two years in the Pacific on a Navy Destroyer and was honorably discharged. He then completed his residency at Swedish Hospital in Seattle, WA. He held medical licenses and certifications in both California and Washington. With his wife and one young son, he moved to Tacoma to establish his family medical practice.

Ken was a highly regarded physician. Knowledgeable and compassionate, he truly cared for all his patients; he was the recipient of many awards before his retirement in May 1996. Reflecting his constant desire to learn and serve, he was President of the Washington Academy of Family Physicians in 1977 and the Washington State Family Practice Doctor of the Year in 1978.

He also helped establish the Family Practice Residency in Tacoma and served as the first president from 1975-1978. Additionally, Ken was Chief of Staff of Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital.

Beyond his practice, Ken was very active in his community. For 33 years, he proudly served as the Rams football team doctor for Woodrow Wilson High School. He also was one of the first participants in Relay for Life, founded by Dr. Gordon Klatt, and continued to fundraise and participate for many years.

He also enjoyed distributing Christmas presents to children in need through the Forgotten Children’s Fund, working with the Tacoma Rainiers, serving as medical advisor for the Tacoma Camp Fire Girls, performing yearly physicals at the county Park Department for Little League football players, and was the physician for the Faith Home, a residence for unwed mothers.

An enthusiastic Seahawks, Mariners, UW Husky, and Tacoma Rainiers fan, Ken loved to travel and he was also an avid outdoorsman. Whether with his brothers or childhood friends, family or colleagues, he enjoyed fishing throughout the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, duck hunting at the Laidlaw Island Hunting Club in Westport, and razor clam digging on the WA Coast. PacWest Tennis in Gig Harbor was where he and his wife played singles and doubles for years, and his kids learned to play there too. Ken ran the Sound to Narrows race and twice finished the Seattle to Portland bicycle ride.

He climbed Mt. St. Helens (before and after the eruption), Mt. Rainier, and Mt.Adams. Undoubtedly, his favorite place to be was at the Graham family cabin on the Hood Canal. There, Ken relished swimming, waterskiing, oyster shucking, hiking in the Olympics, fishing, hosting gatherings, and bulkhead diving throughout his lifetime.

In 2012, Ken's wife of 55 years died of cancer. After a few years, Ken was blessed to meet and court another wonderful woman, Jeannie, whom he married in 2016. Together, they continued to laugh and travel while also spending time with their families and creating new memories with friends and their church community.

Ken is survived by his wife, Jeannie, who was by his side as he faced recent and significant medical challenges (and for which his family is very grateful); his brothers, Charles Graham of Florida and Ronald Graham (Roberta) of Vancouver, WA; his children, Kenneth (Diana), Steve, Susan (Al), and Kevin (Satcha); his five grandchildren, Kieler, Katelyn (Quin), Cooper, Zia, and Islyn; Jeannie’s daughters Wendy (Bob), Lisa (Rob), Diana (Gerry), Kim (Kevin) and many beloved cousins, nieces and nephews.

A family graveside memorial will be held at Haven of Rest in Gig Harbor. A celebration of Ken’s life will be held at a later date.