Inspired to her career in the funeral industry by her family’s legacy in the field, Nancy Butz Graham obtained a diploma from Anderson High School in 1965. Following this, she went on to achieve an associate degree from the Gulf Park College for Women and completed additional coursework at Ball State University. She began her career by spending five years as an administrative supervisor with Anderson Medical Laboratories Inc. before taking over the Brown-Butz-Diedring Funeral Home and Crematory as owner and secretary-treasurer. The Brown-Butz-Diedring Funeral Home was founded by Ms. Graham’s grandfather in 1929 and was run by her parents until their retirement.
Ms. Graham spent 45 years with the Brown-Butz-Diedring Funeral Home and Crematory, during which time she was responsible for bookkeeping, paying bills, working with grieving families, meeting with clients and consulting. Throughout her career, she was kept motivated by the support of her partners, her desire to ensure that their business was trustworthy, having opportunities for public speaking, and all the recognitions she received from her community. Achieving considerable professional growth throughout her career, Ms. Graham is now retired and has passed on her business to her partners.
In addition to her work with the funeral home, Ms. Graham has been incredibly active in her local community. She has been involved with Rotary International since 1988, when she became one of the first women inducted into the organization, and has spent 25 years involved with the Rotary Club of Anderson, notably serving as a board member and chair for their 75th anniversary celebration. Furthermore, she spent 10 years as board member and chair of the Anderson Area Chamber of Commerce from 1997 to 2008 and as a member of the development board for the Ascension St. Vincent Hospital.
A director emeritus for both the local YMCA and the development board for St. John Health System, Ms. Graham spent time as the co-chair of the business section of the Carnegie restoration campaign for the Anderson Fine Arts Center in 1997 and the honorary co-chair, alongside her husband, with the Alternatives Incorporated capital campaign from 2003 to 2004. She has also been actively involved with the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, Psi Iota Xi, Junior Achievement USA, the March of Dimes, Boy Scouts of America, the Paramount Theatre, the YWCA, the American Cancer Society, the American Red Cross and more. She is particularly proud of the work she did in 2006 on the opening doors campaign with Alternatives Incorporated.
Above all her accomplishments, Ms. Graham has found her work with Rotary International to be particularly gratifying. The organization has changed considerably in the decades she has been affiliated and she has been greatly honored to be named a Paul Harris fellow and presented with the Elmo A. Funk Ideal of Service Award. Twice presented with the Athena Award from the Anderson Area Chamber of Commerce in 1992 and 1994, she was later named Entrepreneur of the Year in 1997 and cites her tenure as the chair of the chamber to be the highlight of her career. Ms. Graham was also named a laureate of the Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame in 2001.
Married to her husband, Philip C. Graham for many happy years, Ms. Graham is also the proud mother of one son, Justin Puckett, and grandmother to one grandson, Korbin Richard Puckett, who recently got married. In her free time, she has long enjoyed dancing, and took five years of tap dancing and acrobatics before finding her niche in ballroom dancing. She and her husband have appeared in various ballroom dancing exhibitions. They have also traveled considerably, visiting 23 countries in Eastern and Western Europe. Looking toward the future, Ms. Graham hopes to continue enjoying her retirement as well as her work with Rotary International.