Moffett Library to celebrate Graham Purcell's 100th birthday

Moffett Library to celebrate Graham Purcell's 100th birthday

Moffett Library to celebrate Graham Purcell's 100th birthday

He was a small-town boy who went to Washington D.C., and represented the people of North Texas for 11 years.

Midwestern State University's Moffett Library will celebrate the legacy of Archer City native Graham B. Purcell Jr. at 4 p.m. Friday, May 3, to honor what would have been his 100th birthday. Friends and family members will share memories of Purcell, who served the 13th Congressional District as its representative from 1962-1973.

During his time in the House of Representatives, Purcell played a critical part in bringing the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training Program to Sheppard Air Force Base beginning with a German delegation of pilots in 1966. He was president of a weekly House prayer breakfast group.

Purcell was born in Archer City May 5, 1919. He attended public school there, then left to attend Texas A&M College, a time that was interrupted by World War II and his service in the Army. Purcell returned to A&M after the war in 1946 to earn his bachelor's degree in animal husbandry. He graduated from Baylor Law School in 1949 and practiced law in West Texas and Wichita Falls. In 1955, Texas Governor Allen Shivers appointed Purcell judge of Wichita County's 89th District Court, where he served for six years. Purcell was active in civic and church-related activities and was named Outstanding Citizen of Wichita Falls during that time.

Purcell was named a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1960 and 1964; then elected as a Democrat to the 87th Congress by special election to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of U. S. Rep. Frank Ikard. He was reelected for five more terms. When districts were reorganized in the early 1970s, he lost his bid for reelection in 1972.

After his political career, Purcell practiced law in Washington, D.C., for the next 15 years. He was a founding partner of Bishop, Cook, Purcell & Reynolds, which grew to more than 100 attorneys. He returned to Wichita Falls in 1988. Purcell and his wife, Nancy, were the 2010 recipients of the Patsy Baggett Award that recognizes those who aid local children in crisis.

In 1993, through an act of Congress, the downtown post office building in Wichita Falls was designated the Graham B. Purcell Jr. Post Office and Federal Building. Purcell died on June 11, 2011, in Wichita Falls.

Moffett Library houses 141 boxes of Purcell's congressional papers from his time as a representative. The papers include letters that concern his professional activities, numerous government documents, pages from the Congressional Record that contain his speeches, newsletters from 1967 to 1972 that were sent to constituents, his voting record, and a notebook containing a brief discussion of all the bills he dealt with during his career in the House. The Purcell family also donated some personal items from his Archer City home to Moffett Library in 2013.

For more information, contact Special Collections Librarian Cortny Bates at 940-397-4173 or