For decades, no one had a higher profile around the Scioto County news scene than William Ray “Billy” Graham, the first full-time photographer for the Portsmouth Daily Times. Graham, 86, of West Portsmouth, passed away Friday at SOMC Hospice Center in Portsmouth.
“I would use the word ‘legendary,’” longtime newspaper executive Bill Warnock said. “He always did a weekly feature of children and it was very, very popular.”
Warnock said he worked with Graham from 1970 t0 1976.
“He was great,” Warnock said. “He always had a good imagination. He was very cooperative. Other photographers are always focused on their ideas, not yours. But he was somebody you could really work with.”
Portsmouth City Council member Jo Ann Aeh remembers Graham from the years in which she worked at The Daily Times.
“Billy was a very nice guy,” Aeh said. “He was just a very nice easy-going guy. He met his wife, Phyllis (Ann Schweinsberg) at the Times. I had worked with her at Selby’s (Shoe manufacturing) in the office. I knew him really well. The last time I talked to him was right after Phyllis died.”
The two were married for 48 years. She passed away on Nov. 2, 2010. He was also preceded in death by his stepfather, Harry Joseph; his first wife, Mary Jane Clark, and his son-in-law, Jeffrey Martin Slone. He is survived by three daughters, Linda Sue Slone of Piketon, Betty Graham (Jeff Williams) of Columbus, and Susan Ann Graham (Coren Dickerson) of Portsmouth; 12 grandchildren; and 9 great-grandchildren.”
Graham was also known for his photography business, Billy Graham Studios, and he was honored with a star on the Portsmouth floodwall. He was also active in the Portsmouth community, having served in the Civil Air Patrol, as a former Boy Scout leader, member of the SSU Golden Bears, Portsmouth Area Jaycees and served on the Goodwill Industries Board and Camera Club Association. He was also a co-founder of the Portsmouth Boat Club and he attended Pleasant Green Baptist Church.
Aeh said she has something from Graham she has cherished over the years.
“One time he had to have a full-page picture of Marting’s Bookstore,” Aeh said. “He had me hold the book. I still have it.”
While Graham started in the photography business on his own, he later attended Kent State University and also took numerous professional courses in photography.
Gail Wente went to work at The Daily Times after Graham had left, but she had a vivid memory of him and his work, especially when he taught photography at Shawnee State University.
“I took a couple of photography classes under him,” Wente said. She referred to Graham as an excellent photographer.
Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday at the RALPH F. SCOTT FUNERAL HOME in Portsmouth with Rev. Clarence Parker officiating, assisted by Elder Bob Rickman.
The family will receive friends at the funeral home Tuesday from 5 to 8 p.m. and one hour prior to services Wednesday.
Memorial contributions may be made to SOMC Hospice, 2201-25th St., Portsmouth, OH 45662.
Online condolences may be shared at www.RalphFScott.com.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.