Barbara Graves, who passed away of gall bladder cancer on May 25, 2012, was an steadfast and loving partner to her husband, Black Enterprise Founder and Publisher Earl Graves Sr., and the guiding force behind the Black Enterprise mission of economic opportunity for African Americans. She was an accomplished educator and businesswoman, as well mentor and role model for executives and professionals at Black Enterprise and beyond.
Barbara Graves was a indispensible business partner as well as life partner of Earl Graves Sr. Whether serving as chief editor of Black Enterprise magazine, a member of the board, or his personal speechwriter, she was his best friend, his right hand, his chief and most valued advisor.
Barbara and Earl Graves, Sr. commit to a lifetime together at their wedding ceremony.
The bride celebrates with her bridesmaids.
From the start, Barbara saw her primary role as a wife supporting her
husband’s dreams no matter how far fetched they seemed, even to her. In 1970, with a mortgage and a young family to feed, she stood firmly behind Earl’s endeavor to launch Black Enterprise. Here, Barbara and Earl present their youngest son Michael to the world, as older brothers Johnny and Earl, Jr., look on. All three sons would go on to become executives at Black Enterprise in adulthood.
Hand-in-hand, Barbara and Earl Graves, Sr. walk with sons, Earl Jr., Michael and Johnny.
Barbara Graves is at her husband’s side as Black Enterprise Publisher Earl Graves rings the closing bell of the New York Stock Exchange on February 10, 2006.
Barbara and Earl Graves join Oprah Winfrey during her photo session for the cover of the June 2008 issue of Black Enterprise, in which Winfrey’s Harpo Inc. was named BE 100s Industrial Service Company of the Year.
Barbara joins her husband and a granddaughter, Veronica, for a photo op with President Bill Clinton at a Westchester African American Chamber of Commerce Gala. Know for shunning the spotlight, she was nevertheless and ever-present source of support and inspiration for her family.
Barbara Graves’ high standards and unerring sense of right and wrong made her the guiding light of the Black Enterprise brand, but to Earl, she was simply his soul mate.
Mr. and Mrs. Graves enjoy some time away together.
The Graves Family Christmas Card, featuring all of the children and
grandchildren of Earl and Barbara Graves, was an annual tradition greatly anticipated by family and friends alike.
“My mother was a steadfast and loving partner and counselor to my father; his quiet source of strength and inspiration,” says Earl Graves Jr., president and CEO of Black Enterprise. “She served as mentor and guide to several generations of employees, managers and professionals. Above all, she genuinely cared for every member of the Black Enterprise family, and held a special passion for children and young people in particular.”