HOLMBERG: Chimborazo fire victim known as an unusual, ‘larger than life’ character

Posted at 12:45 AM, Sep 25, 2013
and last updated 2013-09-25 06:44:05-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)--When Richmond firefighters pulled 40-year-old Carter Graham out of his burning upstairs apartment at 605 Chimborazo Boulevard at about 10:10 last Tuesday night (Sept. 17), his friends figured this irrepressible soul would be right back in their world.

“A friend of mine said it when we heard about him being in the hospital,” longtime friend Sarah Ochs said. “She said he was far too alive, too strong, too robust, too eternal, to ever die.”

“I think everybody felt that, yeah, it was just, oh Carter, you burned yourself, you’ll be better next week,” said longtime friend and employer Max Henkel.

Graham suffered only partial burns. But he had inhaled smoke before he was rescued.

He died Monday.

He was a well-known character in Richmond. Eccentric, perhaps; unique for sure, said those who knew the wander and adventurer.

“It sounds cliché to call someone larger than life,” Ochs said, “because it gets said too much. But he really was in so many ways.”

“He earned the title,” Henkel said.

carterCollageGraham, who grew up in Richmond, was known for bicycling across country in the hopes of appearing on “The Price Is Right,” only to find they weren’t taping the show during the season when he arrived.

He worked on an Alaskan fishing boat and cannery, his friends said.

He walked the Appalachian Trail and was known for wandering through Richmond on foot, hanging out with whomever he’d meet.

He held a wide variety of jobs, working on arcade machines and as a stagehand.

“He did pretty much everything you can do to be an adventurous person,” Henkel said. “It was kind of like ‘Jackass’ before ‘Jackass’ existed.” In  a town known for serious partying, he was known to hold his own with the best of them.

But his friends said it was his intellect, his encyclopedic knowledge and hunger for information that made him stand out as an enduring character in a town that has more than a few.

You can read about him on the Friends of A. Carter Graham Facebook site.!/groups/FriendsofACarterGraham/

A memorial gathering will be held at Plant Zero in South Richmond on October 6.