IFMA Celebrates Life, Career of Founder and First Association President George Graves (1924-2015)


George Graves

The International Facility Management Association (IFMA) is saddened to mark the passing of its first president and one of its original founders, George Graves, IFMA Fellow. Graves was an integral part of the birth of IFMA and the advancement of the FM profession.

“We all strive to leave this world better off than we found it, and George Graves achieved this more fully than most,” said IFMA president and CEO, Tony Keane. “George’s legacy is everywhere around us, and while we will miss his influential presence, we will always be inspired by the lasting impression he left on those whose lives he enriched. The IFMA family has lost a founding father, and while no one can replace him, we can celebrate his life and accomplishments by continuing to advance the industry to which he was so devoted.”

George Graves was born Sept. 13, 1924, in Alfalfa, Louisiana, USA. He served in World War II as a canine handler. After his service, he earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting and went to work for Texas Eastern Transmission Corp. in Shreveport, Louisiana, USA.

In May 1980, Graves hosted a meeting in Houston, Texas, USA to establish a formal organizational base for a facility management association. By the end of the meeting, the National Facility Management Association (NFMA) had a constitution, bylaws, temporary offices and plans to expand nationally.

At the first NFMA meeting in October 1980, there were 47 participants — 25 were direct members of the association. The attendees from Houston helped establish the first chapter and committed to host the second annual national conference. Shortly after the 1981 conference, the name was changed to the International Facility Management Association to accommodate a growing Canadian membership.

In 1983, the first IFMA Awards of Excellence were handed out and Graves received the Lifetime Achievement Award. He was in the first class of prestigious IFMA Fellows (the highest honor bestowed upon association members) in 1992. In cooperation with the Houston Chapter, the IFMA Foundation created an endowed scholarship in Graves’ name in honor of his support of the FM profession.

Even after he moved on from IFMA, Graves still attended IFMA’s annual World Workplace Conference and Expo and kept close ties with IFMA staff and members. He frequently visited IFMA headquarters, bringing with him a box of chocolates for the office.

Graves is survived by his wife Joan Graves, his daughters Carolyn Graves and Jane Ellen Graves Voisard, and his son Michael Wade Graves.

Today, IFMA is the world’s largest and most widely recognized international association for facility management professionals, supporting 24,000 members in 105 countries. The association’s members, represented in 134 chapters and 17 councils worldwide, manage more than 37 billion square feet of property and annually purchase more than US$100 billion in products and services. Formed in 1980, IFMA certifies professionals in facility management, conducts research, provides educational programs and produces World Workplace, the world’s largest facility management conference and exposition. To join and follow IFMA’s social media outlets online, visit the association’s LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTubeand Twitter pages. For more information, visit the IFMA press room or