Henry H. Graham Jr.'s oldest son and namesake showed a lot of interest when his father was nominated for awards.

Three times Graham, chief financial officer of Transaction Network Services Inc. of Reston, was among the finalists for public-company CFO of the year at the Greater Washington Technology CFO awards.

The first two times Graham came home to find his son waiting expectantly for the result. When he walked in with a finalist's trophy there was a moment of excitement until Graham jokingly declared it a "loser trophy."

When Graham finally won the big prize last Thursday night, he thanked his wife and colleagues at TNS and raised his award into the air to make a dedication. "I just want to tell my son Henry, 'We did it,' " he said.

There was applause from the crowd of 800 and tears came to the eyes of several people at TNS's table.

Henry Graham III, 18, a freshman at Ferrum College in Ferrum, Va., died in his sleep three months ago. The coroner has not determined the cause of death.

Receiving the award was bittersweet for Graham. His son had just settled into life at college. He was studying political science but starting to ask lots of questions about his father's work. He had even signed up for an accounting course. "He was a great kid," Graham said later. "We were very proud of him."

The award, sponsored by the Northern Virginia Technology Council, Tech Council of Maryland and the Washington DC Technology Council, is meaningful, Graham said, because it is a recognition of the good work done by most members of an industry that has been tarnished by the misdeeds of a few.

"Unfortunately Henry wasn't home for me to go home and show him the real winner's trophy," Graham said. "But in a way he was there."

-- Ellen McCarthy