KANKAKEE — Even Norm Graham cannot run a business forever.
But he certainly gave it a try.
Following a 30-year career in Kankakee selling furniture and manufacturing lighting, Graham is selling his city-based business, Graham Furniture, 189 W. Court St.
“He said it’s time for him to relax and watch the squirrels,” said his granddaughter, Jessica Ogryzek, a 2004 graduate of Herscher High School who now lives in Lake Villa. “I’ve told him now that he has some time, he can come and visit. It’s nice to know he’s going to have some free time.”
At age 85, Graham finally decided to sell his business and the three-story, 22,000-square-foot building in which it had been located.
The transaction will officially be completed on May 1. Graham said until the deal is finalized the new ownership does not want to be identified. He noted the owners already are working on the location.
Prior to operating the furniture store along West Court, Graham owned Graham Industries, 300 E. Chestnut St., in the building which was the former Montgomery Ward. He moved to that location in 1989 from the southside of Chicago and manufactured lamps and lamp shades.
Though he stopped producing lamps and shades about 10 years later, Graham’s Home Furnishing Factory Outlet remained opened.
Nearly two years ago, the community came together to help Graham as he was having financial difficulties resulting in his property taxes not being paid.
A GoFundMe account was established by a friend. The campaign far exceeded the $6,225 bill. In fact, one anonymous donor stepped forward and paid the entire bill. He used other funds received through the account to buy needed inventory.
In a tearful interview with the Daily Journal, Graham thanked those who came to his aid.
Ridding himself of the day-to-day stress of owning a business will come as a relief to Graham.
“I like to get out of the weight of responsibility,” he said. “I’m getting to the point where this is more than I can handle.”
While the business responsibilities will soon be gone, Graham will continue his ministry service at two area nursing homes. He also will continue his support with Fortitude Community Outreach.
So how long will Graham continue his ministry role? That was an easy question for him to answer: “As long as the Lord gives me strength.”
Hopefully, that will be many more years to come, Ogryzek said.
“This is well overdo,” she said. “He can take a step back. I’ll tell you, I’m still pretty surprised by this. He had talked about it for a few years. I’m over-the-moon excited. He can now relax, at least his version of relaxation.”
One of Norm’s sons, Gary, 65, who retired three years ago as a mental health technician from Riverside Medical Center, said he had been trying to persuade his father to join him in retirement for the past few years.
“I’m just so thankful he’ll be able to do what he wants to do,” he said. “We’re all excited that he’s not going to have the pressures of running the store and that he can enjoy the rest of life.
“I’m sure he’ll keep himself much busier than me.”