About Graham Turpin

Graham Turpin was born in London, within hearing of Bow Bells. That made him a true cockney. Of course, what really made him a cockney was that no one in my family could understand a word he said.

Graham's accent along with his humble beginnings helped to inspire his journey to America. As a six year-old boy, he longed for more. At the top of his road there was a small pet shop with a monkey in the window. Graham dreamed of buying the monkey, but it was several weeks before he worked up the nerve to go inside the shop and ask about the primate. When he finally did, the shop owner replied, "More than you have, little boy." He didn't like being told he couldn't have something he wanted, and he was pretty sure he'd have a better shot at what he wanted in America.

Graham on his motorcycle

He arrived on Yankee shores as a young man with one suitcase and visions of a better life. We met, I fell for his humor and wit, and we married. We spent our early years working hard to save money, and our later years planning on how to spend what we did have. Though at one time, Graham had settled on the idea that having electric garage door openers meant you had made it in America, he soon knew it was what was inside the garage that counted for him. Over the years, he acquired two motorcycles—a Harley Davidson Fat Boy and a BMW—as well as a classic Ford Thunderbird and a Mercedes-Benz much like the ones featured in the ads he produced while working for Merkley + Partners. It's still very hard for me to see that car without picturing him in it, waiting for me outside my office as he always did after work.

Both Graham and I considered ourselves fortunate. We had everything anyone could want: A nice home, a wonderful son, a good marriage, kind friends, and, we thought, great health. Bad things happened, but they seemed to happen to others while we skated through life.

All that came to a screeching halt on January 22, 2008. After a few months of Graham suffering random stomach and backaches, Graham returned from our family vacation feeling like he was coming down with the flu. We saw our doctor, who did blood tests that led him to suggest an ultrasound that led to a CAT scan that led to a phone call from the doctor: Graham had late-stage pancreatic cancer and he was very sorry. Eleven words that changed our lives forever.

I did all the research I could as fast as I could. It was daunting. Very quickly, Graham's situation deteriorated. His last day home was spent watching the Giants surprise Super Bowl defeat of the New England Patriots. The next day he was admitted to New York Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. Three weeks later he was dead from the disease.

Graham left behind a wife, a son, and a legacy of laughter mostly preserved in the humorous songs and poems he wrote about things bizarre or bizarrely mundane. Many of the songs remain posted on a cork wall in our home. And our son Max can still sing many of them from memory. In honor of my husband's wonderful spirit, and the other husbands, wives, sons, daughters, mothers and fathers who will be victims of this silent killer, I have started The Turpin Foundation.