JCA to honor Pat and Patricia Graham with the 2017 JCA Recognition Award at Jubilaté

Pat and Patricia Graham, JCA’s 2017 Jubilaté Recognition Award honorees.

Each year since 2004, Joliet Catholic Academy has honored either a family, person, couple or group at Jubilaté, the school’s annual celebration and major fundraiser now in its 32nd year.

At Jubilaté 2017, this tribute will be bestowed on Patricia and the late Harold Patrick Graham. The Graham’s have made a difference in the lives of our JCA students by their contributions of time, talents and finances to our JCA community.  Patty and Pat’s children and grandchildren have lived up to the expectations set before them by their parents demonstrated by their own connection to their church, school, community and family.

JCA President/Principal Dr. Jeffrey Budz is pleased that Joliet Catholic Academy will get this opportunity to say “thank you” to the Grahams.  Patty and Pat have laid the groundwork for our school to continue its mission and tradition of abundant faith-based opportunities for our students to grow and excel in their lives.

Pat (JCHS Class of ’59) and Patty (née Liker, SFA Class of ’60) started HP Graham Construction Company in 1969, and his love of building roads expanded into developing real estate in Illinois, Florida, and Hawaii. Before Pat passed away in April of 2012, he proudly worked with a group of local friends to found First Community Bank in Joliet.

Their daughter Colleen (SFA Class of ’87) stated, “My dad had a strong belief in education. He always said it was one of the few things in life no one could ever take away from you”. The roots of that strong belief in education, particularly Catholic education, for the entire Graham family began with both Pat and Patty, graduates of JCHS, SFA, Lewis University, and the College of St. Francis respectively.

Being a leader in the Joliet community began with Patty Graham providing the example for her own family in the fall of 1955 before entering high school. Patty, the oldest of five children, wanted to attend St. Francis Academy for high school. Collen Dow said, “My grandfather, at the time, didn’t think women needed a quality education. My mom met with Sister Ferdinand, who saw my mother’s desire for an SFA education and allowed her to do a work study program. She had a job cleaning the kitchen beginning in eighth grade. My grandfather saw this, and the value that an SFA education instilled in my mother, and stepped it up for the other four siblings. My mother and father saw that a quality Catholic education changed the trajectory of their lives, and it’s why they thought it was so important to pay that forward…to this day my mother always says God Bless Sr. Ferdinand”.

Over the years, unbeknownst to many recipients, the Graham’s chose to sponsor students and scholarships at St. Raymond School, All Saints Academy in Naperville, Lewis University, St. Mary’s Notre Dame, and Joliet Catholic Academy. The Graham’s youngest daughter Chris Gambs said, “Sr. Ferdinand and the Franciscan sisters were so supportive of my mother both at SFA and CSF. They worked as a team to make it happen. My mom has spoken before about the ‘ripple effect’. They have helped so many (including me), hopefully those people go out and do the same thing”.

The “ripple effect” Chris spoke of is present currently at JCA, as her sister Colleen and her husband Tom Dow currently serve on the committee for Jubilaté 2017. The Dow’s both spoke of Patricia’s role as a teacher, modeling strong Catholic values throughout her life. For a time post-college graduation Patricia taught at Hufford Junior High, and then stepped away to raise her children and help Pat run the family construction business. Tom Dow, himself a college professor in part due to the influence and encouragement of his in-laws said, “Patty has always said ‘It isn’t what you teach that makes the difference, it’s who you are’. That’s what this award is really about. She’s still a teacher and always has been”.

Both the Dow’s and the Gambs’ expressed their gratitude in knowing that Pat and Patty Graham, although characteristically humble and avoidant of the spotlight, would receive recognition for their Christian leadership skills throughout a lifetime. Colleen said, “Mom and Dad’s faith, the importance of prayer and community, their love for their grandchildren, their calling to service…we are extremely proud of what they’ve accomplished. I go back to my mother’s strong belief in her prayer relationship with the blessed Virgin Mary and the lesson it teaches us in life. She will help us through the good times and bad”.

On Saturday, March 11, 2017, Joliet Catholic Academy will hold its 32nd annual Jubilaté “Cowboys and Angels”. The night is sure to be a great evening of fun, friends and fabulous auction items. To purchase tickets, donate to Jubilaté, or find out more  information visit
jubilate.jca-online.org or contact JCA Director of Special Events Mrs. Christine Voss at cvoss@jca-online.org.

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