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Xenia Tornado: 50 years later - Man who lost 3 siblings in tornado reflects on how fragile life is

XENIA — 50 years ago today an EF-5 tornado killed more than 30 people in Xenia.

Three of the Bobby Graham’s siblings.

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Graham was only 7 years old when his family took cover in a cellar on Trumbull Street.

He doesn’t like to talk about April 3, 1974, but for the first time, he wants to share what happened.

“It’s something I haven’t talked about in a lot of years,” Graham said.

When the tornado touched down, Graham was on the front porch and remembered that his mom was cooking pizza, the TV went black, and his Dad told him to get in the basement.

“Watched the tornado coming across from the school and houses exploding,” Graham said. “I remember Dad putting his hand on my shoulder saying get in the basement. Next thing I know I woke up in the hospital.”

“It crushed my leg and they said I’d never walk again,” Graham continued. “I had a big hole here, and a big hole here. They cut me open and did surgery. They said I was bleeding out the mouth, nose, eyes, and ears.”

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Bobby healed slowly. While in the hospital, he unfortunately learned that his two brothers and sister died.

They were 8, 5, and 3 years old.

“Sherry, Bo, and Billy. I know they’re angels right now,” Graham said. “I know it’s sad but they’re in a better place.”

Bobby said after healed, his parents did everything to make him feel loved, despite the family’s major loss.

“I don’t know if it mattered as much then, as it did as I got older,” Graham said. “I don’t know if it mattered as much then, as it did as I got older.”

“The older I got, the more I couldn’t figure out why I was the one who survived and not one of them,” he continued.

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Graham buried his wounds and relied on his faith.

“There’s a purpose. Like Mom and Dad used to say. There’s a purpose for him keeping you here,” Graham said. “God’s got his purpose, I just haven’t figured it out yet.”

Graham said his fear of storms is gone.

“It used to scare me when I was a kid. I’d ball up, freak out. But now, as long as the kids and wife and everything in the house cleared out. I know what can happen and what can’t. It don’t scare me, not like it used to,” Graham said.

Despite what he’s been through, Graham said he loves his life.

“I’m thankful every day to be here,” he said.

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Graham is now married with kids and grandkids. He even has a mini farm with chickens, ducks, and goats.

He admits he prefers talking to animals over people, but he isn’t afraid to tell anyone just how fragile life can be.

“Be thankful for every day you can get, because I’ll tell you, you never know when it’s going to end,” Graham said.

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