George Cessna Graham was preparing for his first semester at the University of Colorado. Raised in Colorado Springs, Graham had transferred to Boulder from UCCS to pursue degrees in business and economics.
Graham passed away on Aug. 26, the second day of classes. He would have turned 22 the following day.
He devoted his time to bible study groups, hiking the Rockies, photography and his family. In Colorado Springs, he was a member of CRU — Campus Crusade for Christ — and was by all accounts admired by the others in the group, a calm and intelligent presence.
“He challenged my way of thinking,” said CRU’s Matt Pape. “The first time he said something in group, I was just blown away.”
Graham often arrived at those meetings with a device on his body for the chronic back pain he struggled with. Though he was a passionate volunteer, his medical issues prevented him from participating in outside events for the group, and he sometimes missed meetings because of doctor visits.
“His pain was noticeable, whether you knew him or not,” said CRU’s Ben Wittman. “He was really willing to speak up, and very open about his personal struggles. In our group, George would be the first to share what was going on in his life or share his thoughts about anything.”
Graham would sometimes need to stand up to use the handheld digital device, a stimulator that soothed his back. “He had this attitude about it, that it was just something about his life that he endured,” Pape said.
According to his friends in CRU, he was shy and quiet, but unexpectedly funny. When he spoke, the group listened intently.
“I think his character was due in part to his struggles,” Wittman said. “He had a supreme gentleness about his demeanor.”
Graham’s family will be holding a memorial service in Colorado Springs.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Gabriel Larsen-Santos at firstname.lastname@example.org.