Benjamin D. Gradison, teacher and nonprofit leader

December 7, 2012
Benjamin D. Gradison
teacher, nonprofit leader

Benjamin D. Gradison, a native Washingtonian who settled in Asheville, N.C., and ran a nonprofit organization that helped start recording studios in developing countries and underprivileged regions of the United States, died Nov. 30 at a family home in Maggie Valley, N.C. He was 28.

The medical examiner in Haywood County, N.C., said determination of the cause of death is pending further tests.

Benjamin David Gradison spent much of his early life in Washington, where his father was a congressman from Ohio and his mother chaired the Interstate Commerce Commission. He was a 2002 graduate of the private Edmund Burke School in the District and a 2006 public policy graduate of the now-defunct College of Santa Fe in New Mexico.

He then moved to Asheville, where he taught elementary school before starting a record label as well as an organization that partners with the nonprofit Leaf International to unite communities around music and the arts.

Mr. Gradison, who often used his own money, worked in Appalachia as well as Kenya, Tanzania and Colombia to install recording equipment and train students and teachers in music production. He played blues harmonica.

Survivors include his mother, Heather J. Gradison of Washington; his father and stepmother, former Rep. Willis “Bill” Gradison Jr. (R-Ohio) and Cari Gradison, of McLean; two sisters, Maile Hermida and Logan Gradison, both of Arlington; a brother, Andrew Gradison of Washington; five half-sisters; a grandfather, David Stirton of Houston; and a step-grandfather, John Cox of McLean.

— Adam Bernstein

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