FRED GRAHAM (1931 - 2019)

  • "Fred was an extraordinary man- a journalism pioneer, and..."
    - William (and Lynda) Webster
  • "2nd Lieutenant Fred P. Graham"
    - Grier Graham
  • "would see him on the street in DC and he seemed so affable...."
    - Dean Monroe
  • "Dad told me in the last year that his life had been happy,..."
    - Lys Graham
  • "The kids and I loved celebrating dad's birthday (2018)."
    - Grier Graham
Notice

GRAHAM FRED P. GRAHAM Fred P. Graham, an award-winning newsman and pioneer in legal journalism, died at his home in Washington DC on December 28, 2019 from complications of Parkinson's disease. Fred was the first lawyer hired by the New York Times to cover the Supreme Court. From there he moved to CBS News as its first legal correspondent. Later he helped launch Court TV as its Managing Editor and Chief Correspondent. Fred's reporting won him journalism's most prestigious awards -- the George Peabody Award and three Emmy's -- for his coverage of Watergate and the scandal that sparked Spiro Agnew's resignation as Vice President. He was a founder of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. Fred Patterson Graham was born October 6, 1931 in Little Rock, Arkansas while his family was living in Texaskanas, Arkansas. His family moved to Nashville, Tennessee when Fred was in junior high. He graduated from West End High School in Nashville and then attended Yale University on a full scholarship, graduating with a B.A. as a member of the Class of 1953. Immediately upon graduation he enlisted in the U.S. Marines. He attended Officer Candidate School at Quantico, Virginia and trained at Camp Pendleton before being sent to Korea where as a second lieutenant he was second in command of the Seventh Marine outpost in Kaesong, Korea. He then was stationed in Japan. After serving from 1953 until 1955, he returned to Nashville to attend Vanderbilt University Law School earning an LL.B. in 1959. While in law school Fred began his journalism career working as a reporter for The Nashville Tennessean. Upon receiving his law degree, he attended Oxford University as a Fulbright Scholar and received a Diploma in Law in 1960. Leaving Oxford, he began practicing law in Nashville and became involved in Tennessee politics. Connections he made in politics eventually lead him to Washington, DC where he served as the Chief Counsel to Estes Kefauver's Constitutional Amendment Sub-Committee. Following Senator Kefauver's death in 1963, he joined the Kennedy Administration as Special Assistant to Secretary of Labor W. Willard Wirtz. From the Labor Department he was hired to be the first lawyer hired by The New York Times to cover the Supreme Court in 1965. Fred continued at The Times until 1972 when he was hired by CBS as the Watergate scandal began to unfold. He went on to share in winning three Emmy awards for coverage in 1973 and 1974 of The Agnew Resignation; The White House Transcripts and his contributions to CBS Special News Report: The Senate and the Watergate Affair. In 1974 he also was given the George Foster Peabody Broadcasting Award for his consistently penetrating reporting. Fred left CBS in 1987 and again returned to Nashville to be an evening anchor and senior editor for local channel WCRN. As he explained in his book Happy Talk, he was not cut out for local news and left after two years. In 1990, he was hired by Steve Brill as the first employee of a start-up cable channel called Court TV. The new channel covered court hearings live from across the United States. Court TV debuted in 1991. Fred retired from Court TV in 2008. Fred authored three books The Self-Inflicted Wound the Warren Court's revolutionary ruling on criminal law: the story of good intentions betrayed by violent time an alert to the crisis the highest court must soon face (1970); The Alias Program (1976) and Happy Talk: Confessions of a TV Newsman (1990). Fred was predeceased by his parents Otis and Lois Patterson Graham, his sister, Jenny Graham Nunes, his brothers Otis Graham and Hugh Graham. His remaining family includes Grier Graham (Pam Cark), David Graham, (Jenny Martinez), Alyse Graham (Colin Stretch) and eight grandchildren, Aidan Graham Stretch, Grier Graham Stretch, Alyse Graham-Martinez, Sage Graham Stretch, Solene Clark Graham, Nancy Graham-Martinez, Patrice Graham-Martinez and Gareth Clark Graham. He also leaves Dorothy Harris, his mother-in-law, Linda Harris and Peter Range, sister- in-law and brother-in-law, J.P. Harris, brother-in-law, and niece and nephews Zach Range, Julia Harris and Spencer Harris. His marriage to Sheila Lucile McCrea ended in divorce. He has been married to Skila Harris for 37 years. A private service will be held at a later date. Donations in his memory may be made to The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press which Fred helped found in 1970 or the Parkinson's Foundation of the National Capital Area, a remarkable resource for people living with Parkinson's. A private service will be held at a later date. Donations in his memory may be made to The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press which Fred helped found in 1970 or the Parkinson's Foundation of the National Capital Area, a remarkable resource for people living with Parkinson's.
Published in The Washington Post on Jan. 5, 2020
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