Mr. Connell Stafford Graham of 830 N. Graham Hopedale Rd. Burlington transitioned from his labor to his reward on Sunday July 11, 2021 while being cared for at Cone Health ARMC in Burlington, NC. Mr. Graham was "Husband"," Father", "Grandfather", "Brother" and "Uncle" to his loving family, to his community and church he was "Coach", "Deacon" and "Friend". Born November 20, 1953 in Mooresville, NC, Iredell County to Mr. Harry Knox Graham, Sr. and Mrs. Lucille Gilmore Graham. He was a 1972 graduate of East Lincoln High School and a 1975 graduate of Gaston College.
Mr. Graham worked for thirty-nine years as an Electrical Engineer with General Electric, retiring in 2015. His passion for coaching and helping young kids be all they could be lead him to being a coach for over forty-five years. He was the Founder and Director of the Burlington Air-Cavs Sports Club for thirty-six years, with the love and support of his wife, Rhonda and their children, Justin and Dana. What a mighty impact this family has made in this community. "Coach" Connell not only loved coaching he was also a loyal fan of the University of North Carolina Tar Heels and those Dallas Cowboys.
Mr. Graham not only served his community but he served his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as a member of Gethsemane Christian Church in the capacities of Deacon, past Trustee, Male Chorus member, Pastor's Aide and Usher.
His Life and Legacy will be forever cherished by his loving wife, Rhonda Mayhew Graham, his two children, Dana Lekisha Graham Martin (Derek) and Justin Connell Graham; 4 grandchildren, Delia Martin, Kyrian Fuller, Jordyn Clinkscales and Jaxon Graham; brothers, Harry "June" Graham, Jr., Michael Joe Graham, Mack Hunter (Geraldine); sisters, Sally Link (Thurmond), Annie Pagan (Michael), Deborah Simmons (Earnest) and Leilla Friday; sister-in-law, Kathy Graham and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins and dear friends.
Mr. Graham was preceded in death by his parents and 4 siblings, Benizer "Mush" Graham, Allen Graham, Patrick Sherrill and Spencer Graham.
In Coach Graham's words....
The Air Cavs Sports Club started in 1985 as the Burlington Tigers later changed their name to the Tigers, as part of the Burlington Park and Recreation Department. Several years later the football program was cut, due to budgets cuts we became part of the Alamance County Parks and Recreation. We continued to play in the county for several years until our first set of kids aged out.
Then in 1983 my wife Rhonda and I were blessed with a son, Justin. In 1989 when he became of age to play football he was fortunate enough to make the team in Graham that only had space for about 25 kids. It hurt my heart to see so many others kids be denied the opportunity to play. That next year I was move to call on my friends and great group of coaches like: Don Davis, Doug Moore, Bill Burnette, and Thomas Love and we moved to start up a team in Burlington under the name Burlington Police Club in 1990 with two age groups Peewees and Mites still part of the Alamance Parks and Recreations program. The following year we added a Midget team. A few years later, inspired by the success and style of play the kids we had coached employed at Cummings High School, they were given the nickname “Air Cavs”. That next year the organization name became the Air Cavs Sports Club.
We have been blessed to have had a positive effect on so many people in the community and around the state. Our mission remains simple just teach and stress the fundamental, maintain a balance between sports and school and show the kids how much you care about them. Our task is not just to teach football but to help prepare them for life. We try to give the tools they need to be successful after football. We encourage them to be positive leaders and role models and not give into negative peer pressure. We are grateful to have former players return back to volunteer their time back to the organization that help to mold and shape them.
Our motto is “all for one, and one for all, together we stand, divided we fall, solid as a rock and we take no prisoners”. We encourage our players to look out for one another. We also believe that once you become an Air Cav, you are always part of the Air Cav’s family.
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