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L. Saxon Graham, 90, cancer researcher, educator; Jan. 14, 1922 -- May 19, 2012

L. Saxon Graham, Ph.D., a cancer researcher, professor emeritus and former chairman of the department of social and preventive medicine at the University at Buffalo, died after a brief illness May 19 at his home in Orchard Park. He was 90.

The Buffalo native completed undergraduate degrees in history and English at Amherst College, then received intensive Vietnamese language instruction at the University of California at Berkeley preparatory to service from 1944 to 1946 in the Army Counter Intelligence Corps.

Having earned a Ph.D. in sociology at Yale University in 1951, Dr. Graham taught at Chatham College and the University of Pittsburgh before returning home in the early 1950s to teach at UB.

Dr. Graham enjoyed international prominence as author or co-author of almost 200 scholarly publications and was a founding director of the American College of Epidemiology, remaining throughout his career among the nation's best-funded researchers.

Dr. Graham's earliest cancer research concerned the dangers of smoking cigarettes, the evidence for which he presented to the New York State Legislature in the early 1960s while urging passage of the first government-mandated consumer warnings on tobacco products.

In 1957, his pioneering studies at Roswell Park Cancer Institute exploring the relationships between diet and cancer inspired an entire field of epidemiological inquiry.

Dr. Graham lived his personal life with the same passion and dedication he gave to his research. He was at home behind his easel or piano, teaching his three children on ski slopes from Colden to Cervinia, and casting knee deep in rivers across the United States.

He served as chairman of the department of social and preventive medicine at UB from 1981 until his retirement in 1991. Dr. Graham was an avid patron of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, a longtime member of Orchard Park Country Club, and member of Buffalo's Scriptores society.

His wife of 54 years, Caroline Lee Morgan, died in 2002.

Survivors include a daughter, Robin P., and two sons, Saxon P. and Morgan G.

A memorial service will be at 5 p.m. Saturday in Orchard Park Presbyterian Church, 4369 S. Buffalo St.