At the Nov. 10 Joint District 65/202 School Board meeting, Board members and administrators paused to honor Deborah Ann Graham with remembrances and a few moments of silence. Ms. Graham, a graduate of Evanston Township High School and Harvard University, died earlier this month after a long and difficult illness.
Ms. Graham served on the District 202 Board of Education from 2009 to 2013. During that time she served on the Park School Committee, the Wellness Committee, the City-School Liaison Committee, the Professional Growth Committee, the substance abuse team, the school-based health center advisory board and the ETHS Foundation board. She was one of the founders of Cherry Preschool and served on the PTAs of Kingsley and Haven schools.
District 202 Board President Pat Savage-Williams said her time on the Board did not overlap with Ms. Graham’s, “but she invited me to coffee when she heard I was running. I was impressed with her passion. Deborah always spoke from her heart and was always eager to share.”
District 202 Board member Mark Metz said, “I appreciated her passion and the honesty and energy she brought to the School Board. If she was on your side, she was a great ally. If she wasn’t, she was a formidable opponent.”
District 202 Board member Gretchen Livingston said, “I met Deb well over 20 years ago. She wrote many articles for the American Bar Association. I met her when she was working on women in law firms. Her greatest legacy is her writing about women in the law. At the time, she was writing about why there weren’t more women partners and alternate work schedules and part-time female partners in law firms. I think her writing was instrumental in impacting that discussion in law firms in Chicago and across the country.”
Tracy Quattrocki, District 65 Board president, said she met Ms. Graham “because she hit my car and left me a note and then took me out to dinner. I went to one of the birthday parties at her house and left exhausted. I could not imagine a house so full of laughter and energy.
“I was always amazed by her passion for truthfulness. I most admired the fact that she was so fearless in speaking her mind. She’ll be missed for that.”
District 202 Superintendent Eric Witherspoon said of Ms. Graham, “She was such a vibrant person. Her time on the Board was a very productive and important time, when we were really debating…what would become the freshman restructuring programs.
“I really admired Deb … she took that work so seriously. She sought out a lot of information and worked not only with colleagues on the Board. … Deborah always spoke from her heart. Yes, she had that big intellect, but she always spoke from her heart. So, Deborah, you were a friend.”
District 202 Board member Jonathan Baum, who did not attend the meeting, posted on his Facebook page, “I first met Deborah more than 40 years ago when, as ETHS classmates, we ran against each other in a school-wide election, which ended in a tie. That was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”
Ms. Graham is survived by her husband, James Bernstein, and their children, Rebecca, Sarah and Nathaniel.
The funeral was held on Nov. 9 at Temple Beth Israel in Skokie. Donations in Ms. Graham’s memory may be made to Temple Beth Israel, 3601 Dempster St., Skokie; the Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration, Radnor Station Building 2, Suite 320, 290 King of Prussia Road, Radnor, Pa., 19087; or to OSRUI, 1121 Lake Cook Road, Suite 3, Deerfield, Ill. 60015, would be appreciated.