Longtime restaurant owner Dale Graham, the proprietor of one of Southaven's oldest businesses, Dale's Restaurant on Stateline Road, died Wednesday after a brief illness. He was 81.
"My uncle was a wonderful, happy man who loved everyone," said his niece Mona McKinley of Davenport, Fla.
McKinley fondly recalled summers spent in Southaven and Horn Lake where Graham operated his two earliest restaurants, Dairyhaven and Dairyhaven 2 before those eateries transitioned into Dale's Restaurant.
"I can remember after the restaurant started standing on milk crates as we poured out ice cream," McKinley said. "I can recall when we played a joke on him and put frogs in his money bags."
McKinley said her uncle took that gentle prank with good humor.
"I never saw him get angry with anyone," added McKinley. "He was a wonderfully kind man who loved his family and his community. He was active in helping other businesses get started. He was very involved in the community and did good things for people that many people never knew about."
Dale Graham opened his restaurant in Southaven in March of 1966 when the restaurant was located along a gravel road, long before Southaven, now Mississippi's third largest city, was actually incorporated. After opening Dairyhaven, he opened Dairyhaven 2 in Horn Lake. His Dairyhaven restaurant transitioned to becoming Dale's Restaurant.
According to his niece, he owned 16 Dale's restaurants across the Southeast and owned and operated Dale's Smokehouse in Batesville.
"Uncle Dale has been a giant part of my life," McKinley said.
Services for Graham as follows: Visitation will be held at the Goodman Oaks Church of Christ, 1700 Goodman Road East in Southaven, from 12 noon until 3 p.m. Saturday with funeral services to immediately follow.
Burial will be next Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018, at Forest Hill Memorial Gardens on Holmes Road in Memphis.
Survivors include his wife Shirley Graham; daughter Larita Graham Mathis; two grandchildren Jaqueline Mitchell and Destin Mathis; and several nieces and nephews.
Robert Lee Long is Community Editor of the DeSoto Times-Tribune. He may be contacted at email@example.com or at 662-429-6397, Ext. 252.