Back with the Pack
Had Thomas Wolfe attended N.C. State, he may have realized you can go home again.
At least that’s the sentiment of former state Agriculture Commissioner Jim Graham. “I feel like I’ve come home,” said Graham, 80, at a reception in honor of his first day as Executive in Residence at his alma mater, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
In a volunteer capacity, Graham will work up to 15 hours a week from an office in Patterson Hall. Joining him will be his longtime assistant, Donna Creech. “Commissioner Graham will assist with counsel and advice to College leadership as well as to students. He will promote and enhance close ties for the university with agriculture-related individuals, producers and industry leaders,” said Jim Oblinger, dean of the College, who hosted the event. “Our faculty and students look forward to mining the wealth of knowledge and experience that he brings to us.”
The dean presented Graham with keys to the office, along with an N.C. State paperweight “to hold down the paper from all the work you’ll be doing.”
The Patterson office is just up the hill from the D. H. Hill Library, where an exhibit commemorating Graham’s 36 years as commissioner ran from January through April of this year. “The Sodfather: A Friend of Agriculture in North Carolina,” featured photographs and artifacts — including a re-creation of Graham’s Edenton Street office — describing Graham’s work to promote and develop agriculture in the state. In conjunction with the exhibit, the NCSU Libraries embarked on several initiatives to expand and enhance resources available for the study of the history of North Carolina agriculture. Among these is the Special Collections department’s compilation of Graham’s personal papers and memorabilia. Additionally, Graham’s friends and family have created the Jim and Helen Ida Kirk Graham Agricultural Heritage Endowment to acquire books, journals and electronic media related to agriculture for the general library collections.
Graham, a member — and permanent class president — of the N.C. State class of 1942, was an agriculture teacher, superintendent of the Upper Mountain Research Station in Laurel Springs and general manager of the State Farmers Market before he began service as agriculture commissioner in 1964. On this February day in 2001, his service to the state and its state university continued without missing a beat, with just a simple move “home” from Edenton Street to Hillsborough Street.
— Terri Leith