A Birmingham business legend whose company helped build the NEC has passed away after a long illness.
Richard Graves, who had been battling pancreatic cancer for the past 18 months, died today in hospital, aged 53.
Mr Graves was the majority shareholder and senior partner of the Graves Partnership, a quantity surveying firm based in Broad Street, which was launched by his father Francis - known as Frank - in 1956.
Mark Bevan, managing partner at the Graves Partnership, said Mr Graves’ would be missed by all who knew him.
He said: “I’m sure you could get tributes from the thousands of people who knew Richard and I am sure they would all say the same thing. Despite his illness he remained cheerful, ebullient and was always exceptionally generous, not just financially but with his advice and time for anybody who needed it.
“He was a big sports fan and loved his shooting but will probably be best known for his cigar smoking, his socialising and his infectious personality. I think he will be missed by all who knew him and will be remembered not just in Birmingham but across the construction and property industry.”
Mr Graves’ help build the family firm to one of the major players in the region’s property scene and the company was involved in a number of flagship scheme over the years including the NEC, the Five Ways development in Birmingham and the new Welsh Assembly.
In September 2005 property company Erinaceous acquired Francis Graves in a multi-million pound deal but Mr Graves bought the company back at a fraction of the price last year after Erinaceous went bust. Ironically, he had resigned from the company in January in frustration at the state of Erinaceous but was still on gardening leave at the time the banks pulled the plug.
John Duckers, former business editor of the Birmingham Post, said Mr Graves was widely respected both for his business acumen and sense of fun.
He said: “Richard was just wonderful fun to be with but equally importantly was an exceptionally capable businessman. He was undoubtedly one of the true movers and shakers in the property sector in Birmingham and he knew just about everybody - his contacts book must have been fantastic.
“He was the life and soul of the party, erudite and witty, and he will be very sorely missed.”