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When Michael B. McGraw ’51 was at the height of his career as a U.S. Army brigadier general working at the Pentagon, his time was stretched to the limit. As a volunteer senior officer who commuted from his home in Concord, Mass., to Washington, D.C., finding time to spend with his wife and family could be a challenge.

But in 1981, McGraw, who graduated from Lafayette with a degree in mechanical engineering, retired and found that “suddenly, I didn’t have anything to do,” he says. As he took stock of his lifestyle change, he recognized that one skill he never wanted to give up was flying, so he found a way to continue his passion in retirement. For more than 20 years, McGraw has been flying local children to Boston-area hospitals for cancer treatment as an active member of the Military Flying Club at Hanscom Air Force Base in Bedford’s “angel flights” program.

As he’s grown older, he has cut back on the flying, but he’s become more active in the base’s Project Concern, which also is supported by the Concord Rotary Club.

“Project Concern is just a tremendous thing. The senior enlisted people started it,” McGraw says. “It helps subsidize the enlisted families, giving them food and sending their children to camp, since the Boston area is the second-highest rent area, next to New York City. The latest thing was an airlift where we sent care packages to Army soldiers and toys for Iraqi kids. That just blew my mind because the cooperation between the Army and the Air Force was like nothing I’ve ever seen.”

As a master shipbuilder, McGraw creates elaborate models of schooners and unique ships and donates them to the Rotary Club for fund raisers. He recently finished the sloop Concord. The original wooden ship was built in 1928 and used as a supply ship during the Great Depression. McGraw is now working on Sea of Galilee, based on the hull of a 2,000-year-old fishing boat that McGraw believes was used during the time of Jesus Christ.

McGraw says the spirit of giving was evident at Lafayette during his student days.

“I always admired a guy who I was in mechanical engineering with,” he recalls. “He didn’t speak very good English and he was learning it, but having a hard time with it. His name was Sarkis Acopian and he really helped me because he was so giving of himself — even when he didn’t have much money.”

McGraw adds, with a chuckle, that money is no longer a problem for Acopian, the 1951 graduate, Easton businessman, and founder of the Palmer Township-based Acopian Technical Company. Several years ago, Acopian gifted the College with a donation that made possible the renovation, modernization, and renaming of its engineering complex.

As McGraw’s insight into selflessness was broadened at Lafayette, so was his sense of civic duty. He began his military career as a member of ROTC. His class alone produced three flight officers.

“A lot of good and rather famous military people – and one engineering brigadier general – came out of Lafayette,” he notes.

Categorized in: Alumni Profiles