One of Birmingham’s most distinguished business figures, Frank Graves, who helped mastermind the construction of the NEC, has died on his 84th birthday.
Mr Graves, a chartered quantity surveyor whose practice Francis Graves grew into one of Birmingham’s best known companies, enjoyed a highly prominent career in the region over several decades.
Among his many achievements, he was project controller for the contract to build the NEC in the 1970s, deputy lieutenant of the West Midlands in 1982, High Sheriff of the West Midlands in 1988-89, vice-president at Aston Villa, a committee member at Warwickshire CCC and President at Harborne CC.
Awarded the OBE in 1983, he was also a president of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, president of Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, a director of the Hippodrome Trust, Chairman of the South Birmingham Health Authority and vice-chairman of the West Midlands Army Benevolent Fund.
Friend Harvey Williams, past chairman of the RICS in the West Midlands, said: “I have known Frank most of the time he has been in the Midlands, for more than 40 years. He was a very, very respected chartered surveyor and he masterminded the construction of the NEC. He lived, slept and ate the NEC – he left an enormous legacy to the region.
“He was an inspirational leader in business. Frank built his practice up and he became a principal player in the sector in which he worked. He became enormously well-known throughout the business world in the region – his standards were very, very high.”
Frank Graves was born on June 9, 1929, in Whitby, North Yorkshire, where he spent his early years.
He moved to Birmingham in 1947 and was articled to Maxwell Harrison and Partners. He qualified as a chartered quantity surveyor in 1952 and later spent two years in the Royal Engineers for his national service.
He married Phyllis in 1951 and the couple had two children, Helen, born in 1953, and Richard, born in 1956.
He started his practice, Francis C Graves and Partners in August 1956, and his first client was the Birmingham Regional Health Authority. The practice grew and had offices throughout the UK. The business was based in Edgbaston and covered a wide and varied client base. In a statement, the Graves family said: “Frank was interested in all forms of sport and travelled extensively following the England cricket Test team. He was a keen golfer, football and rugby fan. He was a loyal family man and was thrilled to have recently had his third great grandchild.”
His son Richard, who was a partner in the practice, died in 2009. He is survived by his wife Phyllis and his daughter Helen, six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
His daughter Helen said: “The family has been overwhelmed with messages of sympathy and how proud we are of his achievements and the respect with which he was held in the wider community.”
A private family funeral is to take place, followed by a memorial service in Birmingham in late July.