Alumnus establishes fund to facilitate career connections

Posted on Dec 13, 2016 in Alumni News and News

As the first member of his family to attend college, David Graves, b’73, calls his KU experience transformational. “It was a wonderful four years of my life, and a time for growth in many ways,” he says, “not just in academic terms, but we all grow up emotionally as well.”

Graves’ career as a commercial real estate investment analyst began in his home community of Kansas City, but in 1983, The Travelers insurance company transferred him to Hartford, Connecticut, beginning a journey that took him to several cities across the nation. As the first in his family to move away, Graves says he was thankful he had become a Life Member of the Alumni Association soon after graduation. “I truly did want to stay connected to the University, the state and my family, and my life membership was one way psychologically to do that,” he says. “My commitment to KU has always been strong. I owe a great deal to the University, because I’ve been blessed with a pretty interesting 40-year career.”

David GravesAfter 14 years with Travelers, Graves began a 17-year stint with State Farm Insurance companies in Bloomington, Illinois, where he became vice president of real estate and mortgages. When he retired from State Farm, he and his family settled in Dallas. Through the years, Graves had become a close friend of Dallas real estate developer and fellow Jayhawk John Eulich, b’51, who ultimately coaxed Graves out of retirement to become managing director of The Belmont Group, the Eulich family’s trust.

Eulich, who died Sept. 3, and his wife, Ginny Walsh Eulich, c’51, in the early 1980s provided a gift to the Alumni Association to fund the bronze “Eulich Jayhawk” sculpture outside the Adams Alumni Center. Graves has followed their example with his gift of $30,000 to create the David Graves Alumni Excellence Fund , which he hopes can help KU students and young alumni make valuable career connections with successful Jayhawks. He praises the Association’s Dallas Network for linking many young graduates who are beginning their careers.

As the second of three siblings, Graves began a KU tradition in his family, inspiring his younger brother, Dean, b’75, to follow him to the Hill, and his older sister, Donna Cooper Graves, PhD‘94, to choose KU for her doctoral degree. Naturally, their 93-year-old father, Don, is a converted Jayhawk, ardent basketball fan and, until recently, quite the hoops sensation in his own right. “He played basketball about a year ago,” Graves says. “You don’t want to take him on in a game of horse.”

Graves returns home several times each year to visit his dad. His January trip will include a visit to Allen Field House to watch his Jayhawks take on the Texas Longhorns as part of his annual birthday celebration with lifelong friend and pledge brother, John Ballard, b’73. “I always chide him into obtaining a ticket for me,” Graves says. “There’s a big piece of my heart that still resides in Kansas at KU.”

This donor profile originally appeared in the KU Alumni Association’s 2015-2016 Annual Report.

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