There was a strong Maryland State Police presence at Adams Family Funeral Home last Thursday beginning with the large print at the front of the room of the handsome man in uniform, Richard John “Dick” Graham, who had passed away at age 85.

Mr. Graham served in the Maryland State Police for over 26 years before devoting the rest of his working life to law enforcement and public safety, serving the citizens of Maryland for 59 years.

He was a family man, who loved nothing more than spending time with his wife of 65 years, Janet, whom he adored, and his sons Dick, Mace and Scott and their families.

He was a man’s man and was so proud of his sons. He enjoyed talking about each one of them and marvel at the lives his boys had made for themselves and their families. The four of the Graham men were the best friends in the world.

We loved drinking beer with him at When Pigs Fly and at Patrick’s Pub, and when you were bellying up with him he always said to “just call me Dick.” But he was always Mr. Graham to me, and he always will be

Mr. Graham was so friendly and so kind to all who came his way, particularly the bartenders and the serving staff of the particular place he was in, and they all loved him so. Everybody loved Mr. Graham.

He was as easy going as they come, but don’t be fooled, he could tell a fib or two to get you stirred up. As Dickie said, he enjoyed stirring the pot, but always in a harmless and light-hearted way. And when he got you and you realized you had been got, Mr. Graham let go with a deep, hearty laugh that caused his broad shoulders to shrug with each breath of laughter.

Mr. Graham loved to laugh and smile, and his smile was so genuine and easy.

He loved beaches and he loved going to Ocean City in the fall.

He rooted for the Miami Dolphins and I think he must have taken great delight in doing so as all Baltimore Colts fans (and Cumberland was a big-time Colts town in those days) hated the Dolphins because of head coach Don Shula, who, of course, left as the Colts head coach a season after the Super Bowl III debacle.

Mr. Graham, on the other hand, loved the Dolphins because of Shula and made no bones about it. Again, call it his way of playing devil’s advocate …

He rooted for the Atlanta Braves and he watched the Orioles most nights as well. He became friends with Leo Mazzone and Sam Perlozzo during his spring training trips. Of course, Mr. Graham became friends with everybody, including the players he coached on the Dapper Dan Little League Mets back in the 1960s.

It was a remarkable sendoff on Thursday at Adams Family Funeral Home for a remarkable man, for Dick Graham was loved and admired. The service itself was much like the man it honored – direct and to the point – lasting just 26 minutes. Yet it was so full of love, admiration and heartfelt emotion. It was the most powerful 26 minutes that I can recall because they were the essence of a man who was so good, so honorable and so kind.

Mr. Graham carried with him a strict sense of right and wrong, and he passed that sense on to his sons, who have lived their lives by following their father’s loves and destinations – public service and music.

Mace performed all of the music of the service, playing and singing beautifully, as he always has. You see, while Dickie and Scott have been and are devoted public servants, music is Mace’s way of life and his career, of which the former drummer in the Fort Hill Sentinel Marching Band, Class of 1953, took enormous pride and happiness in.

Mr. Graham was clearly one of the most content people I have ever known in my life. He lived his life honestly and honorably. He was a gentleman; he was strict when he felt he had to be, but through every decision he made, every direction he took, every action he carried out and everything he provided for his family and his community, he did so with a foundation of truth, kindness and decency.

We loved and admired Mr. Graham. He gave us all everything he had that was good and right, and while I shall miss him a great deal, his genuine goodness will stay with me always.

As Rev. Richard Shives said to conclude this remarkable service for this remarkable man, “His race is won.”

Mike Burke writes about sports and a lot of other stuff for Allegany Radio and Pikewood Digital and also talks to Tony C. on The Morning Rush on 102.1 FM and AM 1230 WCMD. He began covering sports for the Prince George’s Sentinel in 1981 and joined the Cumberland Times-News sports staff in 1984, serving as sports editor for over 30 years. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @MikeBurkeMDT