Someone whose opinion he must have respected told D.J. Graham around the mid-1960s, “Graham, you should give it away- you’re looking too old and slow”. Upon hearing that damning assessment, Graham called it quits from all first-class Rugby almost immediately. And with that, Rugby’s loss of its three-time All Black captain from Canterbury would soon become the teaching profession’s sterling-gotten gain.
Legendary doesn’t feel an exaggeration to describe the contribution Sir John Graham made in his public service as an educator and in sport, in Rugby Union and Cricket for the most part- and he did bloody well at it, too. A man who spent most of his adult life sacrificing personal goals in order to enrich the lives of thousands of others. The self-styled man behind the mic’ and former deputy head of Takapuna Grammar, Murray Deaker once spoke of his admiration for Graham’s totally selfless nature and absolute dedication to every role he ever took on.
On occasion they award knighthoods to somewhat divisive figures in fields such as finance or economics, where the judgment could be classed as a bit more subjective on whether the achievements at hand were for the benefit of the greater good or otherwise- there is surely no doubt in Sir John’s case however that one could find a more deserving recipient than someone who achieved ‘for the greater good’.
Was it perhaps his greatest achievement though the time when in his role of Headmaster of Auckland Boy’s Grammar, he told his students that the most important thing they could ever do in their lives was to show love and compassion for others. What could ever be more wonderful than that? (When I look at my 16 year-old son with his disability I know he was exactly right).
In a country full of many really good people we have probably just lost one of the best.