Frank Graham Heppel was the only son of three children born to Frank and Philippine Heppel of West New York, New Jersey. Graham’s music career began even before entering grade school by his mother giving him piano lessons. Soon after he learned to pay the violin but the flute was his special lifelong love. In the 2 years prior to his 1936 high school graduation from Memorial High School Graham had been directing the schools 40 member band; also giving private lessons on all band and orchestral instruments. He continued in this position for 5 more years at which time he was promoted to assistant supervisor of music for the city school system.
In April, 1941, Graham was drafted into the American Army. Later, while serving in the Pacific Theatre he developed a treatment for jungle rot – which was later adopted for general use. During the war musical activities included being band leader with the 236th Army Ground Forces and the 8th Army Symphonic Band (General Robert L. Eichelberger’s personal unit). Graham was with Gen. Douglas McArthur’s group when they landed on the Philippine island of Leyte and witnessed the first raising of the American flag there. At war’s end he led his band in the victory parade in Tokyo.
Following his army discharge he completed a music degree in 1950 at Pacific Union College. Graham taught in many academies over the years including Andrews University where he met Muriel Huber and 7 years later married her. Together they spent 10 years in the Philippines – where Graham taught music lessons, repaired instruments and formed bands. In 2000, Graham taught music theory classes at Russian Samyook University.
Returning to Canada, where he had made his home with Muriel for 26 years he volunteered to teach beginning band students at North Okanagan Junior Academy and did so for 7 years. After more than 71 years of teaching Graham finally retired in December of 2007.
He leaves to mourn his passing his wife Muriel, his son Graham, Jr., two stepsons Vince and Mark, two sisters Phyllis and Ethel, two granddaughters and five great grandchildren. Pastor Cameron Koronko will conduct the memorial service on Friday, October 16, 2009 at 11 a.m., at Armstrong Seventh Day Adventist Church, Patten Drive. In lieu of flowers, Memorial donations for the NOJA Fund, c/o Grandview Seventh Day Adventist Church, 4678 Grandview Flats Rd Armstrong, BC V0E 1B5. Your kindness continues his life’s joy of music.