Earl G. Graves Sr., Black-owned multi-media company Black Enterprise founder, passed away on Monday, April 6, at 85 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s. The announcement was made on the same day by Graves’ son Earl “Butch” Graves Jr., the current CEO of Black Enterprise, through Twitter and Instagram.

“My dad was the absolute personification of elegance, class and dignity,” Graves Jr. said on his Instagram post. “While his business success brought him close relationships with presidents, CEOs and celebrities, he always made time for everyone. His warm smile and charming banter made him readily approachable and always willing to help anybody that would ask I loved and admired this giant of a man, and was blessed to be his son and namesake.”

A graduate of Morgan State University and a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternatiy Inc., Graves Sr. founded Black Enterprise in 1970 while serving on the advisory board for the Small Business Administration.

The Brooklyn native initially intended to create an annual newsletter for Black business people and Black consumers, and later decided to expand to a monthly magazine, which currently has a readership of 3.7 million and includes the magazine, an online site, and two nationally syndicated radio shows.

“Black Enterprise was just a modest monthly magazine when I founded it 40 years ago–just me; a few brave forward-thinking advertisers like Pepsi, ExxonMobil, and General Motors; and a small but spirited and talented staff. Oh, and one other person who did just about everything there is to do to put out a magazine back then–a combination writer, editor, proofreader, layout designer, sales director, office manager, and vice president in charge of shutting down the publisher’s bad ideas–my wife of 50 years, Barbara Graves,” Graves Sr. wrote in 2010 for Black Enterprise’s 40th anniversary.

His wife Barbara passed away in 2012 from gall bladder cancer at 75.

Graves Sr. is survived by his three sons Graves Jr., Johnny Graves, Michael Graves, and his eight grandchildren.

(Photo: Wikipedia)

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