Sunday, January 29, 2023

Steve McGraw Retires as Roanoke County Circuit Court Clerk

Our cousin Steve McGraw is retiring as Roanoke County (VA) Circuit Court Clerk. Steve is the son of Jessie R. McGraw, son of Oza, son of Joel, son of Robert Lee "Jabo," son of John & Mahala. He is also President of the US McCraw Family Association and many of you have met him at our McGraw Reunions over the years. Congratulations on your retirement and many years of public service!

This article is from the January 29, 2023, Roanoke Times, you can see the original HERE.

Retiring Roanoke County Democrat endorses his Republican successor

Steve McGraw has been a Democrat for at least 40 years, and Roanoke County Circuit Court Clerk for more than 30. Friday, in his retirement and transition speech, he endorsed a Republican as his replacement.

Roanoke County Circuit Court Clerk Steve McGraw celebrates his retirement with family, friends and coworkers at a reception at Roanoke County Circuit Courthouse Friday, Jan. 27, 2023, in Salem.  Scott P. Yates

About 70 people who gathered in a conference room at the Roanoke County Courthouse on Friday counted themselves as friends, family and colleagues of Steve McGraw. The four-decade Democrat has been Roanoke County Circuit Court Clerk since 1992, following two terms on the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors.

His last day in office is Tuesday. McGraw’s resigning and retiring with just under a year left in his term.

Wednesday, his longtime chief deputy, Rhonda Perdue, formally assumes the reins in the clerk’s office, at least through the end of the year. As a Republican, she’s running to succeed him.

McGraw, 72, is backing Perdue wholeheartedly. For that reason, he carefully termed Friday afternoon’s gathering “a transition party” on the emailed invitations, rather than a retirement bash.

“We need to consider the future of this office and her name is Rhonda Perdue,” McGraw told the assembled crowd with utter seriousness. “For the past 26 years, Rhonda has been there to head up, manage and oversee many of our modern initiatives while working her way up to chief deputy clerk starting seven years ago.”

It’s not every day that a Democrat endorses a Republican. In the current environment of deep partisan polarization, such an endorsement can easily be seen as an unforgivable act of political heresy.

But there’s another way to look at it, too.

Isn’t it possible that, after working alongside Perdue for more than 25 years, McGraw believes she’s the best person for the job? And that he’s more concerned the office he’s exiting operates fairly and efficiently than he is about the political party of the person in charge?

That’s the kind of person voters often say they want in office — someone willing to rise above partisanship, to do the right thing.

On Saturday, McGraw told me: “She’s the best possible person to take my place in that office. That’s all I care about.”

Before he got involved in politics, McGraw wore a number of different hats.

He grew up in Roanoke’s southwest quadrant, in the shadow of Virginia Heights Elementary school. He graduated from Patrick Henry High and later Virginia Tech. Even later, McGraw earned a master’s degree.

For a spell he worked as a plumber’s helper; in another job he managed home deliveries of this newspaper.

At some point after college, McGraw spent three years as a social worker in child protective services. On occasion, tragedies he witnessed during that day job left him sleepless and emotional at night.

In the early 1980s, McGraw owned a bar on West Main Street in Salem, The Barrel House. (Awful Arthur’s restaurant is in the same location now.) And he sold real estate as an agent and broker.

All those endeavors brought him into contact with a wide range of people. So did his deep and longtime involvement with the Roanoke Kiwanis Club. Many of his closest friends are members, too.

McGraw’s first venture as a political candidate was an independent bid for the Catawba seat on the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors in 1979. He lost that election. But later, as a Democrat, he won it in 1983 and again in 1987.

McGraw considers former state delegate Dick Cranwell of Vinton his political mentor. Cranwell recalled McGraw’s losing 1979 race as “the scraggly kid from Catawba area who was going to take Roanoke County by storm.”

Today, “I’d say he’s one of the best retail politicians I’ve ever met,” Cranwell told me. “He gets out and meets people from daylight to dusk. He’s as refined and skilled a political operator as they come … And he’s a genuinely good human being. I think that came across in retail politics.”

“He’s a fighter,” said Dave “Mudcat” Saunders, another longtime McGraw associate. “Hell, he’s got three black belts in Taekwondo.” Saunders added: “He’s also one hell of a family man, and about as gracious a guy as you can find.”

As county supervisor, McGraw formally opposed consolidation of Roanoke and Roanoke County, which county voters vehemently shot down in a 1990 referendum. Nevertheless, among his accomplishments were city-county cooperative ventures that seemed to make sense.

One was the development of the Smith Gap Landfill. Another was a local agreement among valley governments that allowed police to chase suspects into neighboring jurisdictions.

McGraw also championed construction of Spring Hollow Reservoir. To strengthen the valley’s water supply, it was later merged into the Western Virginia Water Authority, another example of city-county cooperation.

In 1991, McGraw challenged then-incumbent Circuit Court Clerk Elizabeth Stokes, a Republican seeking her fourth term in office.

The clerk’s post seemed attractive for a number of reasons. One of them was its eight-year term, the longest in American politics. Another was the not-insignificant annual salary (now $147,200).

But as that October came around, internal polling by Democrats suggested Stokes would cruise to reelection.

Three weeks before Election Day, McGraw leaked a state auditor’s report to this newspaper. It had quietly come across his supervisor’s desk months earlier. It found financial mismanagement in the clerk’s office under Stokes, though not to a criminal extent. Local TV stations picked up the story and ran with it. That was unusual in a clerk-of-court election.

Stokes fought back, but oddly. Publicly, she compared McGraw to Anita Hill, a whistleblower who earlier that year had testified to Congress that Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas sexually harassed her. On any number of levels, the comparison was a wild stretch.

Ultimately, voters in Republican-dominated Roanoke County put McGraw in office by a few hundred hundred votes. He’s been Roanoke County Circuit Court Clerk ever since. (He squeaked to victory in his last election, in 2015, by 37 votes.)

At Friday’s party, McGraw was humble. He told the crowd his success was due to the large number of friends, family and acquaintances who had backed him over the years. Basically, he meant the people who were in the room.

“The old saying that ‘it takes a village’ could not be truer when applied to my career, beginning with those early days in 1979,” McGraw said. It began with “my first and always my most ardent supporter, my wife Sharon. … From that we developed a really strong cadre of volunteers over the years.”

The couple has two grown sons, Steven and Robert. The former lives here in the valley with his wife, Kelly, and their daughter, Penny. Robert McGraw is married and lives in southern Maryland.

Sharon McGraw, a social worker in Roanoke, is retiring as well. Leaving the rat race will give both a chance to spend longer periods in Florida, where they own a condo near Daytona Beach.

They’re keeping their home in Catawba, though, and will be back a lot, visiting their granddaughter.

“I can’t say ‘thank you’ enough to my village, to my co-workers, or to the voters of Roanoke County,” McGraw said. “It’s been quite a ride.”

-- Dan Casey, Metro Columnist for the Roanoke Times

Sunday, January 22, 2023

The 70th McGraw Reunion - Our Platinum Anniversary!

It's Our Platinum Anniversary!

Happy New Year!

We hope all of you had a happy holiday season, spent with family. It’s now 2023 and we are starting the countdown to our annual family reunion, held as always on the third Sunday in July. We only have 6 months to go and this year that third Sunday will fall on July 16th. This year’s gathering is a celebration of not only our 70th McGraw Reunion, but it is also a celebration of the 70th Anniversary of the opening of the Milam Methodist Church. The celebration of the opening of this church, founded and built by the Brooks and McGraw families gave rise to the Reunion tradition that we carry on today.

With this Platinum Anniversary for both of these, we want to go a little above and beyond this year and that’s why we’re reaching out early to give you an idea of what we’re planning. In addition to our Sunday Reunion, we’re working on some additional activities for Saturday for those who may be interested in joining us. While plans are still ongoing, we would like to do some sightseeing of some places of family interest: some cemeteries, some spots of significance in John & Mahala’s life and Milam Methodist Church to name a few. If you have ideas or suggestions, we would love to hear them. You can contact us at

One thing that we are definitely working on is attempting to have some repairs made to John & Mahala’s headstones at Pine Grove Cemetery. Both of them are falling into disrepair after over a century of service and as their ancestors we feel it falls upon us to do something to preserve these for future generations of our family. At our 2022 reunion last summer we discussed this with those in attendance and there was overwhelming support for this. We are working with a monument company to get pricing and a few people have made donations toward this work. We would love to have these repairs complete in time to include some type of ceremony to honor them and reveal the repaired headstones as part of our reunion festivities, but this like everything else is still in the initial stages. When we get a final quote for the work, we will share this with you should you wish to donate toward the costs.

We are emailing this to everyone on our mailing list and posting it to our Facebook page. We will likely be reaching out a few more times between now and July as all of our plans start coming together.

One last item we wanted to share with you, this time about an event in 2024. Those of you who were at our last reunion heard the announcement, but the McGraw Reunion Association will be hosting the 2024 United States McCraw Family Association Reunion in Beckley. John was born a McCraw and changed our name. This Association is the group of descendants, like John (and all of us who descend from John), who belong to the line that descends from William Maccraw who is believed to be our first American ancestor. This is a Friday and Saturday event where we have lectures planned about family history and genealogy and discussion of the Association’s DNA program and our quest to determine William Maccraw’s true origins, be it Scotland or more likely Ireland. There will also be evening social events and a banquet where you can get to know cousins from across the United States. There will be more information to come on this as well.

So please forward and share this email with your family and mark your calendars for July 16, 2023, for the 70th Annual McGraw Reunion. What can you get us for our Platinum Anniversary? All we want is for you and your family to attend!

Thank You and we look forward to seeing you there!

The McGraw Reunion Website

The McGraw Reunion on Facebook

Join our Mailing List!

Sunday, July 19, 2020

A Last SPECIAL AWARD and Thank You


We'd like to thank all who followed and especially all who submitted to help us make this virtually  the best McGraw Reunion we could have given the circumstances. If you liked what we did, we hope you comment on the posts or you can drop us an email to   We'd love to be able to provide feedback to those who took the time to send in submissions.

We hope that we can all gather together next year in person at Southern WV Community and Technical College in Saulsville. Our relatives have been keeping this tradition alive for 67 years and you have helped to make sure it continues on through difficult times. John & Mahala's children and grandchildren lived through the influenza outbreaks of 1917-1919 and became our grandparents and great-grandparents. Hopefully someday out great-grandchildren will carry this tradition into it's next century. All of that starts with you continuing to have an interest in your family and your history and instilling that same interest in your children and grandchildren. Sometimes we don't realize all the things we want to know until there is nobody left to tell you about them.

To that end, one person went above and beyond to help us provide you with your yearly dose of family lore and he is always most generous in helping us with our Memorial Service.

Thank You to Herk McGraw!

Herk is going to get a 2020 Virtual McGraw Reunion T-Shirt!

Thanks everyone and we'll see you next year for the
68th Annual McGraw Family Reunion!

(Good Lord willin' and the crick don't rise!)

As part of our normal tradition, we pass the hat to cover expenses and the cost of prizes and our website. There is no minimum and this is purely a voluntary donation. If you would like to contribute, you may do so by sending a check payable to the McGraw Reunion Association to:
McGraw Reunion
Box 60
McGraws, WV

And our 2020 Door Prize Winner is....

Everyone liked last year's door prize so much, we thought we'd do the same prize again this year. A custom McGraw Reunion cutting board.

Every item submitted to be used in our Virtual McGraw Reunion received an entry into our door prize drawing. Per our usual procedure, everyone went in a hat, and...

Our Winner Is.....

David McGraw!!!

Thank you for helping make this Virtual Reunion a Success!!!!

2020's Farthest Away Descendant is.....

Juanita (McGraw) Beasley
All the way out in Delta Junction, Alaska!

That's 3,935 miles according to google maps!

Juanita (Nita) is the daughter of Danny G. McGraw
Danny is the son of Barbe and Stella (Eskins) McGraw
Barbe was the son of Gordon and Susan (Brooks) McGraw
Gordon was the son of  William Harrison "Pole" and Pauline (McGinnis) McGraw
"Pole" was the fourth child born to John & Mahala.

Nita says that she's lived in Alaska on and off since 1983 because her husband is retired from the US Air Force.
 Nita: "I wish that I was a story teller because I’d love to add memories of my great grandmother Susan McGraw and great aunties, they lived in Mullens all their lives. Aunt Norma was a high school teacher and after her retirement she taught piano. I have such wonderful fond memories of them but I was not blessed with the gift of the gab. I think my dad got a double dose 😁."

2020's Oldest McGraw Descendant is.....

Daniel G. McGraw
at just over 80 years old!

This year's oldest nominee is the son of the late Barbe and Stella (Eskins) McGraw
Barbe was the son of Gordon and Susan (Brooks) McGraw
Gordon was the son of  William Harrison "Pole" and Pauline (McGinnis) McGraw
"Pole" was the fourth child born to John & Mahala.

"My last reunion was at the School with my Grandmother "Aunt"Susie wife of Gordon B McGraw." Danny was born in 1940 and is from Mullens, WV. He is a Vietnam veteran who served 20+ years on active duty in the US Air Force.

Congratulations Danny and Thank You for your service to our country!

2020's Youngest McGraw Descendant is....

2020's Youngest McGraw Descendant

Steven Connor McGraw

Just under 3 months old!

Steven is the 4x Great Grandson of John & Mahala. Last year his brother Grayson was our youngest McGraw. His father and grandfather were also named youngest McGraw descendants

Steven is the son of Michael and Kaylee (Lafferty) McGraw.
Michael is the son of Brian and Robin (Estep) McGraw
Brian is the son of Michael and Patricia (May) McGraw
Michael is the son of Marvin "Jack" and Lois (Wittemann) McGraw
"Jack" is the son of H.G. and Pearl (McGinnis) McGraw
H.G. is the son of John & Mahala (Cozort) McGraw