Philip Edwin Graves

philip graves
Philip Edwin Graves (May 9, 1931 – July 1, 2022)

Philip Edwin Graves of McLean, VA passed away at his home on Friday, July 1, 2022. He is survived by his son, Ralph Graves, three granddaughters -- Geneva Kramer, Ellen Graves, and Eva Graves -- and great-granddaughter Paige Kramer. A memorial service will be held on Saturday, July 9, 2022, at Money & King Funeral Home, 171 W. Maple Ave., Vienna, VA. The viewing is at 1:30 p.m. Service will follow at 2:30 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks donations be made to the Sharon Lodge Scholarship Fund. Checks should be made out to the Sharon Lodge Scholarship Fund and mailed to:

Sharon Lodge 327

999 Balls Hill Road

McLean, VA 22101-2020

Phil was born in Washington, D.C. to Warren E. Graves and Mary Geneva Graves. He lived most of his life at 1139 Marion Ave., McLean with his parents and older brother Warren. His father purchased the home in kit form from Sears and Roebuck in 1926.

A passion for drawing

Phil always loved to draw. His early report cards suggest he often spent too much time drawing (at least during class time). He was a life-long fan of comic strips. Throughout his life, every day, the comics page was the first page of the newspaper he read.

Phil was trained in drafting and commercial art. He spent most of his professional life working for AMF, Inc. as a design engineer. He retired in 1983.

Masonic Life

Phil was 33rd degree Mason, and Past Master of Sharon Lodge #327, A.F & A.M. He was also active in Demolay. Phil and his wife Nancy were Past Worthy Patron and Matron their Eastern Star chapter. Phil was also a Jobs’ Daughters Past Associate Guardian for Bethel 9, McLean. He served while his granddaughter Geneva was Honored Queen.

Phil was proud of his work administering the Sharon Lodge Scholarship Fund. He said awarding scholarships to deserving students continually renewed his faith in the future.

Family Life

Phil married Nancy Claire Lord in 1953. The couple lived in Vienna, VA., where they raised two children, Ralph Ellis Graves and Sandra Claire Graves.

Weekends were often spent at his mother’s house in Mclean. And when she died in 1974, Phil and Nancy returned to his childhood home. The couple enjoyed their retirement in this quiet neighborhood.

As a long-time resident, Phil had decades of memories, documents, and photos of the area. He was one of the primary sources for author Carole L. Herrick. Her book, A Chronological History of McLean, Virginia, was published in 2002.

A life with trains

As a boy, he was fascinated by all types of transportation – cars, trucks, airplanes, and steamships. But most especially trains. The Graves family had a Lionel train layout which they sold after the Second World War.

As a young adult, Phil transitioned into HO scale modeling. He and his friends would go on railfan photo excursions, ranging from Pennsylvania to Southwest Virginia.

Phil’s interest in toy trains rekindled in the 1960s. He joined the Train Collector’s Association (TCA). His focus was pre-World War II toy trains, particularly Lionel.

A scholarly collector

Phil's encyclopedic knowledge of pre-war Lionel was well known within TCA. He was part of the editorial team for two reference works on Lionel pre-war trains. The first was published in 1988. It was a standard reference work on the subject for decades.

In the 2020s, publisher Bruce Greenberg organized some train study groups. These groups met to examine and document in detail Lionel prewar trains. Phil was an active participant, some items from his collection were photographed for the book.

Greenberg’s Guide to Lionel Trains, Standard and 2-7/8” Gauges, 1901-1940 was published in 2022. It set a new standard for scholarship within the toy train community.

Phil also wrote two articles for the Train Collector’s Quarterly, a publication of TCA. The first was published in 2004. The text for the second was completed and edited before his death, and will be published posthumously.

A collector of toy vehicles (and toys)

Phil was also an enthusiastic collector of vintage toy cars, primarily prewar Tootsietoy Grahams. He was an active member of the Capital Miniature Auto Collectors Club. He designed the graphics for the club’s tractor trailer toy.

Phil collected Strombecker wooden train models. He had built several as a boy and supplemented his collection as an adult. He also owned prewar wooden trains, cars, and trucks from other manufacturers.

A return to scale

Late in life, Phil returned to scale models. He accumulated detailed diecast scale models of tractor-trailers and other work vehicles. He also developed an interest in scale (as opposed to semi-scale) O-gauge trains.

Passion and attention to detail

Two threads ran through Phil’s life – passion, and attention to detail.

Phil never just joined or organization or was only mildly interested in a topic. He always actively participated in every group he joined. And he pursued his various interests with energy and enthusiasm.

Phil’s attention to detail served him well professionally. In Masonic life, it showed in his memorization of rituals. And with his hobbies, that attention to detail gave him knowledge was both broad and deep.

A life well lived

Phil was a member of many organizations and pursued many interests. But as he said many times, it was always about the fellowship. Phil enjoyed just being with people. And people enjoyed being with him.

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Memories Timeline


  1. We remember Phil as a hard working Mason and a wonderful supporter of Jobs Daughters. Our condolences to the entire family. Don and Debbie Ritenour

  2. I knew Phil Graves as a kind and gentle person; who sought to bring folks with common collecting interests together. We came from similar work backgrounds; where the knowledge and accuracy of detail was applauded. I will miss Phil’s familiar ; ‘Hello, Bill’ – with his warm and friendly smile.!

  3. To Phil : He was a good man. He loved his friends and family. Especially his dear sweet wife Nancy. He gave unselfishly to his organizations and kept himself busy. Phil, you will be missed.. Rest well and give dear Nancy a kiss for us. Bobbi Marshall

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