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Lois Graham

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Lois Graham left this world peacefully on November 4, 2013 in the comfort of family and friends. She was 88. To her beloved grandchildren she was simply “Grandma Lois.” But to thousands of female mechanical engineers in this country, she was a pioneer and role model.

In 1945 Lois became one of the first women to earn a degree in engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She continued her string of barrier breaking accomplishments by becoming the first woman to earn advanced degrees in engineering at the Illinois Institute of Technology, the first woman in the United States to earn a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering and the first woman to receive a fellow award from the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers.

During her 39 year career at the Illinois Institute of Technology, Lois encouraged countless students in her roles as professor and mentor. She established IIT’s model program for Women in Science and Engineering and its Minorities in Engineering Program. In recognition of her contributions to the industry and to the advancement of women in the sciences, Lois was elected to the Rensselaer Alumni Hall of Fame in 2003 and named a ‘Person of the Millennium’ by the Illinois Institute of Technology in 2009.

Lois retired in 1985 and relocated to the Adirondacks area of New York (Edwards, Canton) with her husband Sanford Weil. She and Sandy were avid supporters of the arts, education and nature conservation. In the late 90’s they became charter members of the Wild Center in Tupper Lake, NY.

Lois is survived by her brother Paul Graham and companion, Jean J. Tancrede, Natick, MA; Stepsons Jason D. Weil (Lynn M. Juniel), Sammamish WA, and Gordon Weil (Therese Tennesen), Minnesota MA; niece Susan G. Staples (Richford, VT); nephews Paul S. Graham III (Fairfax, VA) and David S. Wolf (Rindge, N.H.); and grandchildren Shelby Weil, Jordan Weil, Joell Weil, Grace Weil and Danny Weil. She was predeceased by parents Paul S. Graham and Marion (Cooley) Graham, husband Sandy Weil, and grandson, Josh Weil.

Lois’ family honors her request for no service. We invite you to be with her in spirit by spending time enjoying the grandeur of nature, encouraging girls to pursue opportunities in science and engineering, mentoring a young person and following your dreams. In lieu of flowers, gifts in her honor may be made to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Illinois Institute of Technology, Society of Women Engineers, the United Negro College Fund and the Wild Center.

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