IN MEMORIAM: Gordon Thomas Graves

in People


   Gordon Thomas Graves, of South Padre Island, Texas, passed away at 9:30 AM, September 21, 2021 at his residence in Harrisburg, Illinois.

     Gordon was born on January 13, 1937 in Crowell, Texas to the late Grady and Dannie (Pegeas) Graves. Gordon married Linda (Powell) Absher on February 13, 2014 and she survives in Harrisburg.  Gordon graduated from the University of Texas in 1959 and received his MBA from the University of Texas in 1971. Gordon was an Electrical Engineer who was known as the Father of Indian Gaming by designing a machine that changed the face of Indian gaming. He was very proud of his contribution to the Indian tribes. He changed their lives. He was a member of the Lottery Hall of Fame. Gordon was also the head engineer on the military project to allow the U-2 to gain greater altitude by integrating an inertial guidance system into the Doppler radar.

Business Life

Gordon Graves was CEO of Datatrol, Inc. when that company won a contract to install the first on-line lottery system in Michigan in 1976. The company installed the first on-line lotto system in the world in Canada in 1978 and, after Graves had left, went on to become GTECH,  the largest lottery supplier in the world. In 1981, Gordon founded a company called Syntech, Inc. that developed the first player-activated lottery terminal, the first microcomputer-based redundant central determinant system, and the first touch-screen gaming terminal. In 1986, Graves sold control of Syntech to IGT, and he not only participated in IGT’s entry into the lottery business, but also was involved in the development of MegaBucks, the first progressive slot machine game.

In 1990, Gordon founded a company called TV Bingo, Inc., which evolved into Austin-based Multimedia Games, Inc. (MGAM). Gordon became CEO of MGAM in 1994 and, in 2003, was named “best performing Chief Executive Officer in the gaming industry” during an awards ceremony hosted by the American Gaming Association in Las Vegas, Nevada. “To put it in perspective, Mr. Graves was underpaid as CEO of Multimedia Games for the past three years by nearly 100 percent, based on the criteria used by our company,” said Stephen Goebels, a representative of HVS Executive Search, who presented the award. “Our criteria are based on the performance of the company over a three-year period, market capitalization, stock price and return to the investor,” explained Goebels. “Multimedia Games excelled in all of these levels.”

Prior to this award being presented to Gordon, The Investor’s Business Daily newspaper reported that MGAM had increased in value at the highest rate of any company on Wall Street in 2001.

Gordon retired from MGAM in 2003. He serves as chairman of the board of Graves Management, Inc. (GMI). GMI is an investment management company that manages most of the assets of the Graves family. Those assets are invested in a wide spectrum of financial instruments and market segments, with the heaviest concentration being in gaming companies. GMI is the majority shareholder of AcesWired, LLC, a limited liability start-up company that operates amusement games.   REASON FOR INDUCTION:  Gordon Graves was selected for the Lottery Industry Hall of Fame for his pioneering leadership in the development of on-line computer systems for lotteries and for his leadership in developing player activated terminals for the sale of lottery products.

     Gordon Thomas Graves, of South Padre Island, Texas, passed away at 9:30 AM, September 21, 2021 at his residence in Harrisburg, Illinois.

Personal life

Gordon loved to travel, and he loved his family; in his later years became an avid golfer. He had a poker group he adored; a book club that he enjoyed; he was a karaoke king and a mason. He was an audience pleaser. With his smile, he charmed everyone. He was an honest, hardworking, loyal, gentleman. Gordon was a generous philanthropist. Years ago he set up the Graves Foundation which gives large donations each year to worthy charities. He was given the honor of having a gymnasium named after him in the new Mercy Ship which was just christened. He also initiated a wonderful scholarship to students in Harrisburg and Carrier Mills because he loved this area and wanted to encourage higher education. In his home town of Crowell, the foundation is active with food banks and education, also. He loved his family with all his heart. He was a proud fifth generation Texan with his roots in Crowell and Austin, but he took Harrisburg to his heart, and he loved being part of this small community. He was a man among men. Our hearts are broken.

     Gordon is survived by his wife Linda Graves of Harrisburg, four children, Steve Graves and wife Liliana of Cedar Park, Texas; Brenda Graves Hammond and husband Blake of Colorado City, Texas; Beth Graves Tarter and husband David of Wichita Falls, Texas; and Jody Graves Wood and husband David of Crowell, Texas; two step children, Bryan Absher and wife Sara of Bloomington, Indiana; and Leslee Brooks and husband Chris of Marion, Illinois; seventeen grandchildren, Kristen (Watt) Daniel,Arturo (Cinthia) Perez, Lily (Paul) Ortiz, Adrian (Jasmine) Perez, Jeremy (Melissa) Tyra, Cori Tarter, Shannon (Doug) Willingham, Sara (Rashard) Pringle, Joshua (Jessica) Tyra, Tyler Wood, Brandi (Logan) Caddell, Wes (Mika) Wood, Caleb (Chandler) Wood, Clay (Kassandra) Eades, Rebecca (Robert) Garza, Amy (David) Castillo, and Casey (Madison) Hammond; step grandchildren, Austin (Ben) Skutnik, Jay (Jessica) Duncan, Connor Absher, Zach Absher, and Cassidy Absher; forty six great grandchildren; and brother Bill Graves.

     Gordon was preceded in death by his parents, two brothers and one grandchild.

     Memorial services for Gordon Thomas Graves was held at 1 PM, Sunday, September 26, 2021 at First Presbyterian Church of Harrisburg. Rev. Laurie Fields will officiate. The family is requesting that all planning to attend would wear a mask. Memorials services in Austin, Texas will be announced at a later date where burial will follow in Crowell Texas. Memorial contributions may be made to Mercy Ships, PO Box 1930, Lindale, TX 75771 or online at