The library, which bears the name of Mr Graham’s Glasgow-born great-great-uncle, Professor Thomas Graham, who was the world’s leading physical chemist of the 19th century, was the first community-owned library to be built in Scotland for generations when it opened in April.
In addition to Mr Graham’s donations, 269 local people contributed sums ranging from £10 to £10,000 – one of the largest community crowd-funding campaigns yet achieved in Scotland.
His son, Major General Simon Graham, who has just retired as head of British Army Reserves, said his father had passed away peacefully at home on November 2 but to the end had remained as ‘sharp as a pin’, keenly interested as much in world news as events in his beloved village.
Although born in London, Mr Graham was a descendent of the Grahams of Ballewan, a farming estate west of Blanefield, which had been acquired by Professor Graham’s father in 1835.
Angus Graham trained as a chartered accountant and worked for a number of companies in several parts of the world including France and the US.
In 1977 he and his family moved to Scotland and he became a director of the Airdrie-based spirits group Inver House Distillers, which then employed 1200 people. It was owned by the US-based Publicker Liquor Industries but in 1988 Angus Graham and three fellow-directors led an £8.8 million buyout of the company.
Over the next 12 years the management team rebuilt it as a single malt producer and acquired five malt distilleries: Knockdhu, Speyburn, Pulteney, Balblair and Balmenach as well as the Catto’s and Hankey Bannister brands. In 2001 they sold the company to the Thailand-based Pacific Spirits Group.
Angus Graham had always wanted to do ‘something special’ for Strathblane and in 2019 he approached the local Community Development Trust offering to fund a new library to replace the deteriorating 40-year-old portacabin facility operated by Stirling Council.
Margaret Vass, development trust chair, recalled that Mr Graham was determined to create an attractive, energy-efficient building that would serve as much as a community hub as a library.
She said: “Although it ended up costing considerably more than we had envisaged, Angus stuck with us and the project through to the end. It was a truly happy day when he cut the ribbon to open the library.”