Graham Gilmer III died peacefully at his home in Lynchburg, Va., on Friday, January 17, 2020, after a battle with cancer. He was embraced with love by his family as he left this life for life eternal. Born in July 1942, in Baltimore, Md., he was the son of Graham Gilmer Jr. and Mary Trigg Gannaway Gilmer. Graham grew up in Orange, Calif., graduating from Orange High School with many academic and athletic awards. He then attended Stanford University where he majored in Biology, competed on the Track & Field team, and was a member of the Sigma Chi Fraternity. Graham continued to Medical School at the University of Maryland where he met the love of his life, Helen Eckert, and they celebrated 50 years of marriage last June. Graham joined the Navy after Medical School to become a flight surgeon, where he greatly enjoyed serving with the U.S. Marine Corps. This sparked an interest to focus his medical skills in the area of Otolaryngology (Ear, Nose and Throat specialty). He completed his four year ENT residency with the Navy in San Diego, Calif. When searching for a location to settle, Graham knew it should be in the East because he loved the seasonal changes. His aunt, Margaret Stovall, convinced Dr. John Risher to take Graham into his practice in Lynchburg, Va. It was a decision never regretted by either doctor. During his 41 years in Lynchburg, Graham treated thousands of Central Virginians. Often he spent as much time in the examining room learning about his patients' lives as he did diagnosing their ailments. He was a skillful surgeon and beloved for his caring and compassionate nature. Graham had a deep voice that might have intimidated people meeting him for the first time, but he was a kind and patient person, and quickly drew you in with his infectious laughter and smile. He lived a life of service, through the Navy and medicine, and also as an Elder in his church (First Presbyterian), President of the Medical Staff, and by volunteering his time with charities including Meals on Wheels, Habitat for Humanity, and the Lynchburg Tree Stewards. Graham had a life-long curiosity and passion for learning. He was a member of the Lynchburg SPHEX Club, a local society dedicated to the researching and sharing of knowledge. He was genuinely talented at so many of his pursuits and picked up new hobbies with ease. His varied interests included photography, bonsai, woodworking, birding, duplicate bridge, and golf. Graham and Helen have three sons, Christopher (Karisa) of Atlanta, Ga., Drew (Alison) of Golden, Colo., and Graham (Kelli) of Washington, D.C. In addition, Graham is survived by eight precious grandchildren, Lyla, Ben, Avery, Grey, Olin, Jack, Avan, and Margaret, all who will miss terribly their beloved "Pops". He had one brother, Tom Gilmer of Yorba Linda, Calif.; two sisters, Kathie Van Ronzelen of Salem, Ore., and Jodi McClain of Lake Oswego, Ore.; and a sister-in-law, Phyllis Eckert of Pompano Beach, Fla. A celebration of Graham's life will be held at First Presbyterian Church on Saturday, February 8, 2020, at 11 a.m. Afterwards, the family will greet friends in the Fellowship Hall. Anyone wishing to make memorial gifts might consider First Presbyterian Church, Beacon of Hope, or Lynchburg Humane Society. The family is grateful for the love, prayers, and support of many friends and the compassionate care of Dr. Jack MacNeill and the Centra Hospice Team. Tharp Funeral Home & Crematory, Lynchburg, is assisting the family. To send condolences, please visit tharpfuneralhome.com.
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